Emilia’s Perspective on Betrayal in Relationships in Shakespeare’s Othello
In Othello, Act IV, scene ii and iii, Emilia, Iago’s wife, reveals her opinion about relationships to the reader as she attempts to comfort Desdemona. She indefinitely believes that many men, as well as women, are frequently guilty of deception and betrayal of their partner. By this part of the play, Othello’s suspicions of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness have greatly increased, and he begins to accuse her of cheating on him. When Desdemona persistently denies his accusations, Othello becomes enraged. He sarcastically asks for her pardon and claims that he took her to be the “cunning whore of Venice” (Act IV, scene ii, line 88). Desdemona is heartbroken by her husband’s mockery and seeks Emilia’s kind words.
Emilia insists that female innocence and chastity is overrated when Desdemona scolds herself for her unworthiness of Othello. Emilia subtly suggests that Desdemona should leave Othello and seek happiness elsewhere. Emilia states in Act IV, scene iii, lines 83-85, “...’tis a wrong in your own world, and you might quickly make it right.” Desdemona naively ignores Emilia and explains that she will do anything to please her husband. Emilia responds, “The world’s a huge thing; it is a great price for s small vice” (Act IV, scene iii, lines 70-71). Emilia is clearly annoyed that Othello called Desdemona a whore and fervently believes that she can do better.
Therefore, Emilia strongly expresses a contemporary view about the sexes in her opinion on betrayal. She argues that both men and women are unfaithful because they are in love
with another person, they can not resist temptation, and they simply have a desire for entertainment....