Othello Act 3 Scene 4
Act 3 scene 4 analysis This unhappy scene concentrates on Desdemona; she has actually become an innocent victim of Iago and Othello. From the moment he enters, Othello handles the role of a persecutor. His very first words in line 30 “O Hardness to dissemble!” not just comments on what he believes is Desdemona’s “incorrect seeming” but also reveals how difficult it is to manage his sensations when he remains in Desdemona’s presence. He proceeds to explain Desdemona’s hand as “hot” and “damp” in line 32. This is an allusion to a belief in the time, that when someone’s hand was “hot” and “damp” they were of a lustful nature.
At this point Desdemona is astonished by Othello and makes the severe error of trying to alter the path of their discussion by pushing Othello about Cassio. Othello reacts to the mention of Cassio by setting a trap for Desdemona, stating in line 46 “I have a salt and sorry rheum offends me/lend me thy handkerchief”. Upon Desdemona’s failure to give him the strawberry printed handkerchief, Othello enters into a rage, telling Desdemona of the significance of the handkerchief which she should not have actually lost it. The handkerchief is a very crucial symbol in the play.
This handkerchief that an “Egyptian charmer to my mom provide “represents Othello’s strange and exotic heritage. More importantly in this scene, Othello exposes that the handkerchief symbolises his love for Desdemona and Desdemona’s chastity. His belief that she has actually offered it away indicates the break in their love, the giving away of her body. The dramatic irony is that although the scarf is lost, Desdemona still likes Othello. The style of look vs. reality is clear in the scene, for although Desdemona seems concealing for her sins when in truth she is entirely pure and blameless.
Othello’s claim that “there’s magic in the web of” the scarf (line 65), reintroduces the theme of magic. This can be contrasted to Act 1, when Othello declared ignorance and disregard for magic when Brabantio accused him of witchcraft. In this scene he takes the opposite position; although the scarf does not embody magic, it has a magic, a hold on Othello. He believes busily that the loss of the scarf represents Desdemona’s betrayal and seems to be bewitched by the token.
Later he is seen duplicating the line “The handkerchief” three times in an uncontrolled fury. The innocent Desdemona is fearful of its loss cries out “Then would to God that I had actually never seen it” in line 73. Frightened by his rash words, Desdemona lies about the handkerchief and states “It is not lost, but what and if it were?” in line 79. This is unfortunately substantial and makes the audience question that if she had actually told the truth there may have been hope in averting this tragedy. Othello leaves at the end of the scene enraged, exclaiming “Zounds! “