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Examination Questions on Othello

Question: What is the relationship between Iago and Emilia?

Answer: There certainly is not that strong and equal tie of love which we would expect to find existing between man and wife. lago uses Emilia as his tool; she is cared for only in so far as she is of use to him. lago has neither the desire nor the ability to love anything or anybody.

Emilia seems to love lago with a kind of passionate devotion. Her sole aim seems to be to do his will, as is seen by her theft of the handkerchief, and her words at the time are:
"I'll have the work ta'en out,
And give't lago: what he will do with it
Heaven knows, not I;
I nothing but to please his fantasy."
This great love, even though its object be unworthy, is a redeeming trait in Emilia's character, which raises her morally far above lago. Indeed, we can look back on Emilia in her girlhood, free from the tarnish, the smut, with which lago has begrimed her. Can we not find almost a touch of sadness for this change in her words: "The ills we do, their ills (husbands') instruct us so"?

Emilia's love for Desdemona is perhaps the purest of her feelings. The bond, then, between lago and Emilia is the bond of evil, in the one case instinctive, in the other acquired.

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How to cite this article:
Ragland, Fanny. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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