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Scene 3.4

Desdemona and Emilia enter, looking for Cassio. They ask the clown where Cassio "lies," and the clown puns on the different senses of "lie" (to sleep, to tell a falsehood, to have sex). Finally, he goes to get Cassio. Desdemona remarks that she's worried she's lost her handkerchief and that the loss would make many men suspicious; but thankfully, she says, Othello's not a jealous man. As she sees Othello approach, she says she will insist on defending Cassio. Othello enters and takes his wife's hand, remarking on its heat and moistness. Desdemona tells him that she has sent for Cassio to speak with him; Othello asks for his handkerchief to wipe his eyes. She doesn't, Desdemona explains, have it with her. Othello explains the origin of the handkerchief: it was given to his mother by an Egyptian, and was imbued with magic, having been sewn by a female prophet and dyed with fluid drained from mummified bodies. Desdemona looks worried, and Othello heatedly demands to see the handkerchief; she, in turn, demands that he see Cassio. Finally, enraged, Othello leaves.
Desdemona talks worriedly about Othello. Iago and Cassio enter. Cassio tells Desdemona that he has given up on his hope of getting his job back. Desdemona begs him to be patient until Othello starts acting normally again. Iago, told that Othello is angry, says he will go and try to calm him, and leaves to do so. Desdemona guesses that it's political matters that are worrying Othello, and that she should remember that even he is not perfect. Emilia and Desdemona pray that it's not jealousy that's angered Othello. They leave, and Desdemona promises Cassio to continue to defend him to Othello.
Bianca, a courtesan, enters. She complains to Cassio that she hasn't seen him in a week. Cassio apologizes and gives her a handkerchief to make a copy of. He found it, he says, in his bedroom and wants to make a copy of it for himself before whoever left it behind asks for it to be returned. But Bianca must leave, Cassio insists, because he is waiting for Othello and does not want Othello to see him with a woman. Cassio promises to see Bianca soon, and she leaves.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Scenes 1.1 and 1.2
Scene 1.3
Scenes 2.1 and 2.2
Scene 2.3
Scenes 3.1 and 3.2
Scene 3.3
Scene 3.4
Scene 4.1
Scenes 4.2 and 4.3
Scene 5.1
Scene 5.2


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