Emilia Othello Essay Assignment

According to a most reliable text, The Practical Writer, the Introduction of an essay should include the following:

  1. A motivator, or hook, to interest the reader (This is the quotation)
  2. The thesis statement and a blueprint for the essay (The thesis is a general statement that connects to the quote you have chosen and three main points that you will use to prove this general statement.)

Put your thesis statement last in this introductory paragraph. So, switch sentences, having this sentence last:

Othello by William Shakespeare was a play filled with tension between knowledge, ignorance, and lies.

Your 3 points in the thesis statement--that the play is filled with tension from knowledge, close-mindedness, and lies--will generate the topic sentences for the body paragraphs of the essay.


Re:  knowledge - Iago is the character who is the most knowledgeable of what is taking place since he generates much of the action.
Re: ignorance - Othello, Roderigo, Cassio, and Desmonda are all ignorant of much of what occurs around them. Only Iago seems to be in control of information, information that he manufactures in order to manipulate others.
Re: lies - Iago is the only main character who is aware of everything. He exploits the others such as Cassio, who he gets drunk and sends off to fight Roderigo. 

Upon further examination of your question, perhaps the "it" that you have written at the end of these lines does not just refer to the introductory paragraph ( which is the antecedent of it), but, rather to the entire essay.

(By the way, you may want to correct the thesis statement by changing was to is and between to among since the word between is only used with two elements or people)

Here, then, are some ideas and passages you can use for support:

From the beginning Iago, Shakespeare's greatest villain, preys upon the ignorance of the other characters in his frequently motiveless duplicity. Deception, of course, is based upon the ignorance of others. Here are some examples:

  • Iago's duplicity keeps the other's from knowing who is truly is; in fact, he admits to generating their ignorance of him in Act I: "I am not what I am" (1.1.65) Later he remarks about Othello, "

The Moor is of a free and open anture
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so (1.3.379-380)

  • Iago convinces Othello of Desmonda's infidelity by deceiving him about the handkerchief.
  • Iago tells Roderigo if he gives him money--"Put money in thy purse"(1.3.333)--he (Iago) will see to it that Desdemonda is won over to Roderigo. Instead, he preys upon Roderigo's ignorance and simply steals from him.
  • Iago manipulates his wife Emilia into stealing the handkerchief given to Desdemonda in the deceptive hope that Iago encourages. For, Emilia believes that Iago will appreciate her act. "I nothing but to please his fantasy," she says as she steals the handkerchief (3.3.343).

The Character of Emilia in Othello

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The Character of Emilia in Othello  


The definition of Renaissance women is fundamentally important in William Shakespeare's play Othello. One of the major causes of Othello's tragedy is his belief that Desdemona is not chaste. According to the men of the Renaissance, chastity, silence, and obedience are three attributes that define Renaissance women. Although Othello takes place during the Renaissance, the women in the play, Bianca, Desdemona and Emilia, defy traditional norms by lacking at least one of the major attributes defining women; Bianca's lack of chastity is clearly displayed when she unlawfully sleeps with Cassio; Desdemona's lack of silence is clearly displayed when she constantly urges Othello to give Cassio's position back. However, in the last two acts, Emilia displays the strongest challenge to the definition of Renaissance women as silent, chaste, and obedient, mainly to defend Desdemona.

First, in order to defend Desdemona's chastity, Emilia challenges the societal norm of silence. Recall the incident when Othello calls Desdemona a "whore" for cheating. In response, Emilia protests loudly against Othello and attempts to disprove his belief that Desdemona is not chaste: "A halter pardon him [Othello]! And hell gnaw his bones! / Why should he call her [Desdemona] whore? (4.2. 143,144). Instead of Emilia conforming to the attribute of Renaissance women as silent, she condemns Othello for his false accusations against her mistress, Desdemona. Later in the play, after finding Desdemona killed, Emilia challenges silence again: "As ignorant as dirt! Thou hast done a deed-... / The Moor hath killed my mistress!" (5.2. 171,174). Although Othello tells Emilia that it would be "best" for her to remain silent, she ignores his request and ridicules him for killing "sweet" Desdemona (5.2. 169).

Secondly, Emilia mentally challenges the social norm of chastity by condoning women that deceive their husbands. Although Emilia does not explicitly state whether she has ever cheated, she does say that she would not cheat for small, material wealth, but any woman would cheat in order to make her husband king: "Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? (4.3. 77). Furthermore, Emilia explains that the reason women cheat is because their husbands "slack their duties" and "break out into peevish jealousies (4.3. 87, 89). In essence, Emilia accepts the "abuse" of men by women because she feels that it is the husband's flaws that evoke the women to cheat.

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Emilia         Othello         Play Othello         Desdemona         Bianca         Cassio         Accusations         Norm         Pardon         Moor        






Finally, Emilia challenges obedience when she disobeys Iago in order to defend Desdemona. After Desdemona is killed, Othello speaks of Desdemona's unfaithfulness and of the symbolic handkerchief that she supposedly gave to Cassio: "With that recognizance and pledge of love / which I first gave her. I saw it in his hand (5.2. 221,222). Emilia responds by saying:

O thou dull Moor! That handkerchief thou speak'st of

I found by fortune and did give my husband;

For often, with a solemn earnestness,

More than indeed belonged to such a trifle,

He begged of me to steal 't. (5.2. 232-236)

Against Iago's wishes, Emilia tells Othello that Iago asked her to steal the handkerchief. As a result of disobeying Iago in order to defend Desdemona, Emilia is killed.

Although Emilia lacks the attributes that define Renaissance women, she clearly displays the characteristics of a strong-minded individual. Instead of conforming with social norms, Emilia follows her beliefs that Desdemona is chaste and that some women are not chaste because their husbands cause them to "fall." Emilia may not have been considered a woman during the Renaissance; however, today, many people admire a woman that exemplifies the strength and courage of Emilia.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 6th ed. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. 1153-1255.



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