Document Type

Junior Award Winner

Award Date

Fall 2012

Course Name

Literary Explorations III


Tracy Townsend


William Shakespeare’s Othello describes the deterioration of the jealous Moorish general Othello’s marriage with Venetian noblewoman Desdemona. This domestic crisis, ignited by conniving manservant Iago’s careful manipulations, hinges upon one handkerchief, its significance within Othello’s and Desdemona’s courtship, and its engineered discovery in the bedchambers of Michael Cassio. Just as this small handkerchief assumes an integral role, the actions of Emilia, Iago’s wife, enable the fruition of his plots but ultimately result in his exposure and downfall; thus, Othello documents the decline of not one, but two marriages. The largest contrast between these two relationships is division of power, for while Desdemona assumes a very passive role, Emilia desires more independence and equality in her marriage. Despite her similarities with and sense of duty towards Iago, Emilia’s strong personality makes her incompatible with her husband.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.