Important Quotes from Othello: I Hate the Moor Explained

Important Quotes

Othello by William Shakespeare is an influential tragedy filled with memorable and impressive quotes. From deceptive phrases to the feminist manifesto, the reader can find plenty of lines that are intriguing to analyze. In this article, our experts have collected the most critical quotes from Othello with explanations.

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“For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.
In following him, I follow but myself.
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so for my particular end
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In complement extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.”

Iago, Act 1 Scene 1

This is one of Othello’s famous quotes. Iago says it in the first scene of the play. The irony of these words is that the villain shows his true colors to Roderigo. He reveals his deceitful nature and promises never to announce his true feelings to the world. To a certain extent, he even warns Roderigo that he might hurt him. However, Roderigo is too naive. Quotes like these remain unnoticed by him. That’s mainly the reason he suffers later in the play.

The quotation contains two popular phrases. The first one is the idiom “to wear my heart upon the sleeve.” It means exposing genuine emotions to others. The other phrase is “I am not what I am.” The expression is contrasted to God’s statement in the Bible, “I am what I am.”

“Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say!”

Iago, Act 1 Scene 1

In these lines, Iago informs Brabantio that Desdemona has secretly married Othello. He uses various epithets to describe the general in the worst way to evoke racial prejudice and anger. Othello is an outsider in Venice. There was intense discrimination against black people at the time. What’s more, black men were seen as predators.

Iago talks a lot about Othello’s race. Quotes like “black ram” and “Barbary horse” are used in the context of sexual relationships. He uses discrimination to cause Othello’s downfall.

“She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.”

 Othello, Act 1 Scene 3

The quote explains the origins of Othello’s and Desdemona’s love. She was attracted to his story-telling capabilities, while he appreciated her sympathetic approach. There might be a chance that the two fell in love with the images of one another.

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“Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see.
She has deceived her father, and may thee.”

Brabantio, Act 1 Scene 3

In these lines, Desdemona’s father tells Othello that he feels ashamed that his daughter ran away with the Moor. She didn’t settle for a man of her father’s choice. Instead, she got involved in an interracial relationship.

Brabantio warns Othello about his daughter. He says that she deceived her own father so that she might do the same to her husband. The words are important later in the play, as Iago feeds Othello’s jealousy. Quotes from Desdemona’s father ring in his ears.

“I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets
Has done my office. I know not if ‘t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety.”

Iago, Act 1 Scene 3

These quotes show why Iago created the evil plans. He justifies his actions by believing that Othello has slept with Emilia. However, that’s highly unlikely. Emilia was an older white woman of lower social class, not well known for her good looks. Besides, Othello had only Desdemona on his mind. Thus, Iago is not jealous for a particular reason. He is jealous because he is jealous.

To put it shortly, he is not interested in truth and evidence. He is focused on revenge. He wants to hurt Othello for reasons unknown to the reader. That’s why he comes up with justifications for his actions.

“Oh, I have lost my reputation!
I have lost the immortal part of myself and what remains is bestial.”

Cassio, Act 2 Scene 3

After a drunken quarrel with Roderigo, Cassio loses his position as a lieutenant. He feels like nobody after he loses his rank. It is a reputation that makes a good man, and Cassio was left without it. What’s quite interesting is that Othello holds the same belief. He is motivated to murder Desdemona, as her alleged affair has ruined his reputation. Both men believe that they are nothing more than “animals” without a status.

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“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on;”

Iago, Act 3 Scene 3

This famous line belongs to Iago: he warns Othello about the dangers of his grudge. The phrase “the green-eyed monster” is now used to describe jealousy. Here, Shakespeare used the expression to describe how jealousy slowly consumes a person. The feeling gets stronger if it is continuously fed with doubts. It toys with its victims before destroying them.

“O curse of marriage,
That we can call these delicate creatures ours
And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad
And live upon the vapor of a dungeon
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For others’ uses.”

Othello, Act 3 Scene 3

Othello presents Desdemona as “the creature” with an “appetite,” while he is described as a “toad” in a “dungeon.” The general thinks of himself as a cuckold. He wants to believe that his wife’s infidelity is an inevitable part of him being a great man. However, he can’t convince himself. That’s why Othello settles for being described as a cuckold as if it was worse than death.

“Hath puddled his clear spirit, and in such cases
Men’s natures wrangle with inferior things,
Though great ones are their object.”

Desdemona, Act 3 Scene 4

Desdemona understands that something is wrong with her husband. She says that men get angry with little things, while in fact, they are worried about bigger ones. She doesn’t think that he might be jealous, as she never gave him a reason to be jealous.

“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.”

Emilia, Act 4 Scene 3

Emilia’s monologue was considered a plea to women’s liberation during the Renaissance era. Comparing Desdemona’s and hers lives, Emilia delivers a critical message: if men can do something, women can also do so.

She begins her speech with a confident statement of men’s fault and presents a cynical view of marriage. Emilia believes that if men commit adultery, women will too. One bad deed always initiates another one.

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This is not a submissive woman’s quote. Emilia presents a view on gender equality in rights and actions, which was revolutionary.

“Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme;”

Othello, Act 5 Scene 2

Just as Cassio, Othello believed that reputation defines a good man. As he takes responsibility for his actions, he doesn’t want people to remember him like that. He doesn’t want to be defined by one foolish act of jealousy. He wants people to remember him as an honorable man, even though he strangled his wife.

Thanks for reading our analysis of Othello quotes. We hope it was helpful for your research. For more details about the play, check the links below.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Important Quotes'. 22 June.