Desdemona and Emelia

So aside from being a pin up board for my bilious screeds this blog site also serves as an outlet for my cerebral musings on a host of disparate subjects.

Today I’m posting an excerpt from Shakespeare’s “Othello” specifically from Act 4 Scene 3. For those of you not familiar with the storyline you can read a synopsis here: .

DESDEMONA     I have heard it said so. O, these men, these men!           

                                Dost thou in conscience think, — tell me, Emilia, —             

                                That there be women do abuse their husbands

                                In such gross kind? [i.e. commit adultery]            

EMILIA                 There be some such, no question.          

DESDEMONA     Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?

EMILIA                 Why, would not you?    

DESDEMONA     No, by this heavenly light!          

EMILIA                 Nor I neither by this heavenly light;        

                                I might do’t as well i’ the dark.   

DESDEMONA     Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?

EMILIA                 The world’s a huge thing: it is a great price.         

                                For a small vice.               

DESDEMONA     In troth, I think thou wouldst not.           

EMILIA                 In troth, I think I should; and undo’t when I had

                                done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a   

                                joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for       

                                gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty          

                                exhibition; but for the whole world,–why, who would  

                                not make her husband a cuckold to make him a

                                monarch? I should venture purgatory for’t.        

DESDEMONA     Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong              

                                For the whole world.     

EMILIA                 Why the wrong is but a wrong i’ the world: and 

                                having the world for your labour, tis a wrong in your      

                                own world, and you might quickly make it right.               

DESDEMONA     I do not think there is any such woman.               

EMILIA                  Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would        

                                store the world they played for.              

                                But I do think it is their husbands’ faults

                                If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties, 

                                And pour our treasures into foreign laps,             

                                Or else break out in peevish jealousies,

                                Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,            

                                Or scant our former having in despite;  

                                Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,   

                                Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know              

                                Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell    

                                And have their palates both for sweet and sour,              

                                As husbands have. What is it that they do           

                                When they change us for others? Is it sport?     

                                I think it is: and doth affection breed it?               

                                I think it doth: is’t frailty that thus errs? 

                                It is so too: and have not we affections,               

                                Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?        

                                Then let them use us well: else let them know,

                                The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.

If any women happen to read this post kindly let me know your thoughts on the dialogue between Emilia and Desdemona – I’d love to hear them. Is there any merit to Emilia’s contentions?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Super Nova says:

    There is indeed merit, men seldom realise brutish behaviour has lasting consequences. Although it’s accurate to assume death becomes rather imminent when this course of action is embarked upon. I love Shakespeare. He documented human nature in such flamboyant fashion, that makes inevitable disaster almost charming. Thanks for the post.

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