Shakespeare 's Othello - Significance And Dramatic Purpose Of Emilia
The world has changed significantly but we continue to learn from Shakespeare’s work because the themes he explored are still valid and his portrayal of people still continues to hold authenticity. Minor characters such as Emilia in Shakespeare’s Othello can be key instruments in unfolding crucial plot information and enhancing the theme throughout the play.
First mentioned in 1. 3, but not shown until 2. 1, Emilia is established as Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s friend. Her importance in these initial scenes is to be present when Desdemona and Cassio speak, maintaining propriety for Desdemona. Without Emilia the audience might believe that Desdemona is the adulteress she gets painted as.
Iago convinces himself that Othello and Cassio have both been involved with his wife yet it is never shown or hinted at being true. ‘Honest’ Iago tells us of Emilia’s actions before we even meet her, thus painting a picture of a wrongful character that she must then disprove: ... I hate the Moor, And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets
H’as done my office. I know not if 't be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do, as if for surety.” (1.3.377-81)
This is further heightened when Cassio greets Emilia with a kiss upon arriving in Cyprus ( 2.1.99) and again Iago speaks of her infidelity. ( 2.1.307) Over the course of the play we come to exchange…