Othello’s visage

Desdemona:

I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,

And to his honors and his valiant parts

Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate;

So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,

A moth of peace, and he go to the war,

The rites for why I love him are bereft me,

And I a heavy interim shall support

By his dear absence. Let me go with him.

(I.iii.250-257)

 

I see this speech as a momentous occasion; usually in plays/stories from this time period, female characters do not speak their desires so directly–and definitely not to a room full of men. She is the only female character present in this scene and thus it takes a lot of courage to speak up when she has probably been taught not to. This is a moment where Desdemona has true agency, where she fights for what she wants. “Let me go with him” is so concise and to the point, compared to the lengthy reasoning before it, that it feels as if she wanted to make sure they knew exactly what she was trying to say, since moments like these are rare for her as a woman–almost as if she’s “dumbing it down” for them. I’ve also noticed throughout the play that both her and Emilia (especially when the latter is revealing Iago’s treachery) demand to be heard when they are present, which can be contrasted with the times when they are absent and Iago “speaks” for them. –Amanda

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