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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Discuss the significance of handkerchief in Othello

The use of handkerchief plays an important role in the play, Othello. Shakespeare has used the handkerchief in this play for some purposes. Now we will write a note on Shakespeare's use of the handkerchief in Othello.

The first mistake is the circumstance of Desdemona's drooping her handkerchief. lago had several times urged his wife Emilia to steal that particular handkerchief bur Desdemona had always kept it in her possession with great care. Then, by chance, Desdemona drops it after having offered to bind Othello's aching head with it. If Desdemona loses the handkerchief by chance, it comes into Emilia's possession by chance too. Hardly had Desdemona left after dropping the handkerchief when Emilia enters by chance and discovers it.The accidental loss of the handkerchief by Desdemona and the accidental discovery of it by Emilia are vital to lago's intrigue against Othello. When subsequently Desdemona cannot produce, the handkerchief, he thrice repeats the words 'the handkerchief' in a tone of great anger and disappointment. His insistence on the handkerchief makes Desdemona say to Emilia-- 

"Sure there's some wound in his handkerchief, I am most unhappy in the loss of it."

We know that Desdemona's inability to produce the handkerchief has confirmed Othello's suspicion against her. Indeed Desdemona's accidental loss of the handkerchief came at a moment most favourable to lago.The part played by handkerchief in this play strengthens in us a feeling of fate. Shakespeare's use of handkerchief is incessant and terrible. It gives us the feeling that for these star-crossed mortals there is no escape from fate. If handkerchief scenes favour lago, it means that fate has sided with devil. The feeling gives us a shock. It disturbs our faith in Divine justice. It makes us believe that our lives are governed by the forces of unreason and evil.Thus the element of using handkerchief does not give rise to any elevating or cheering thoughts but to depressing and morbid thoughts about the universe in which we live. Handkerchief becomes a very fatal excuse for preparing the ground of killing Desdemona. It is a symbol of destruction and not a symbol of love.
Othello handkerchief

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