Omar Mohammad-Ameen Ahmad Hazaymeh
Al-Balqa’ Applied University Huson University College
Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare based on the Italian short story “Un Capitano Moro” (“A Moorish Captain”) by Cinthio. The work revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and his trusted ensign Iago. Because of its varied and current themes of racism, love, jealousy, and betrayal, Othello is still often performed in professional and community theatres alike and has been the basis for numerous operatic, film, and literary adaptations.
The work includes many figures of speech which of course metonymy is one of them . The present paper aims at investigating metonymy in the first act of Othello. Since it is a paper to be published in a journal it will only discuss the metonymic expressions in Act I of the play, Othello.
Potter (24:25, 2002) said that the early history of Othello on the stage is the history of tragic acting, and particularly of a recognized theatrical type, the tragic hero. Othello belonged so completely to the category of tragic hero that virtually everything said about the type can apply equally well to him.
He also added that Othello was not merely a hero, he was also a lover, the type, Hill maintained in his ‘Essay on the Art of Acting’, that comprises ‘all serious dramatic characters, that an actor can expect to shine by'(Hill, Works, IV: 400).
What is Metonymy?
Different views are said about metonymy. The following are some of them.
Gibbs (cited in Metonymy in Language and Thought ,1999) pointed out the impulse to speak and think with metonymy is a significant part of our everyday experience. He added that metonymy shapes the way we think and speak of ordinary events and is the basis for many symbolic comparisons in art and literature. He also added that our ability to draw metonymic inferences, where we infer whole from parts or parts from wholes, is one of the special characteristics of the poetics of mind.
Metonymy in All American: Glossary of literary terms (0UwT
as a figure of speech which substitutes one term with another that is being associated with that term. A name transfer takes place to demonstrate an association of a whole to a part or how two things are associated in some way .This allows a reader to recognize similarities or common feature among terms. It may provide a more common meaning to a word. However, it may be a parallel shift that provides basically the same meaning; it is just said another way. In the play Othello, Act I Scene I features metonymy when Iago refers to Othello using “the devil” that “will make a grandsire of you”. This phrase represents a person that is seen as deceitful or evil. An understanding of metonymy aids a reader to see how an author interchanges words to further describe a term’s meaning.
Wikipedia defined metonymy as a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or a concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. The words “metonymy” and “metonym” come from the Greek: Metonymia, “a change of name”.
Lakoff (cited in metonymy and part-whole relationships.
said that metonymy is one of the basic characteristics of
cognition. It is extremely common for people to take one well-understood or easy-to- perceive aspect of something and use it to stand either for the thing as a whole or for some other aspect or part of it.
Metonymic Inferences in Othello’s Act I.
The metonymic inferences in Othello’s Act I are categorized and discussed as follows.
Certain metonymic expressions are used for Othello by different characters.
- Black Ram. Act I, Scene I, 88.
Iago used ‘ black ram ‘ for Othello’ in “Even now, now, very now an old black ram”. Iago refers to Othello as an old and black ram that captured a beautiful white lady. Here, Iago considered Othello as an old person who controlled a young lady and it would be inappropriate that an old man assaults a young lady and this old man is also a black one. Blackness shows a racial discrimination towards Othello who is the only black leader in a white European society. It could be felt that Iago felt jealous of this black man who owned a respectable position in this white community.
- Barbary Horse. Act I, Scene I,110
Iago considered Othello as a strong barbarian horse who has sexual relation with this young white lady. The horse is of course a symbol of power. Iago wants to provoke Brabantio to attack Othello. Iago also describes Othello as a barbarian who abused a civilized lady.
- . A knave hire, gondolier. Act I, SceneI, 123.
Roderigo refers to Othello as a simple man of lower class that should not be married to a lady of higher class. He is just a person who works for others on a gondola which is not a prestigious job.
- Wheeling stranger. Act I, Scene I, 134-135.
Roderigo considered Othello as a stranger to this European white society. He is just a wandering person who does not stay in one place and by getting married to Desdemona he will cause her to live in a simple life as the Gypsies.
- Fathom. Act I, scene I, 150.
It is a metonymic inference for Othello. It shows that Othello is a tall black man. It is a common feature that Blacks are tall in general.
- The sooty bosom. Act I, Scene II, 70.
It is an awful description for Othello that shows a very strong racial discrimination and hatred towards Othello. Brabantio does not consider Othello a human; he is a thing that should be feared by Desdemona and all the white society.
- Bondslaves and pagans shall our statesmen be. Act I, SceneII, 99.
If Othello has children from Desdemona; their children will be European statesmen who rule Europe and this will make Europeans slaves for the black slaves who do not believe in Jesus the Christ. It is a strong symbol for Othello’s religion and race. It is a racial and religious discrimination.
- . A guinea hen. Act I, Scene III, 310.
Iago expresses his hatred for Othello by using this bad characteristic. He considers Othello as a black animal that does not deserve sacrifice. Iago considers Othello a weak animal “i.e. hen” which is a symbol of weakness and cowardice.
- Erring Barbarian. Act I, Scene III, 339.
Iago believes that Othello’ marriage to Desdemona is an awful sin as this black barbarian has kidnapped a Venetian respectable lady.
- Thieves, Thieves, Thieves. Act I, Scene I, 79.
Iago wants to tell Desdemona’s father that Othello’s marriage to Desdemona is a robbery so he wants him to wake up to see this horrible matter and to do his best to stop it. Iago proclaims that Othello is a thief stole a precious jewel from a noble person.
- White Ewe. Act I, Scene I, 90.
Iago refers to Desdemona as a weak white ewe that is assaulted by a black awful ram which is a horrible situation, so he wants her family to wake up to stop this ignominy.
- A land Carrack,. Act I, Scene II, 50- .
Iago considers Desdemona as a ship or land full with all precious and joyful things and Othello will board it tonight.
- A lawful Prize. Act I, Scene II, 51.
Iago refers to Desdemona as a legal prize taken by Othello by the force of law.
- It. Act I, Scene III, 190.
The pronoun ‘ it ‘ refers to Desdemona. Her father wished that he had adopted a child of others instead of begetting this girl who brought disgrace to her noble father.
- Jewel. Act I, Scene III, 194.
Brabantio used ‘ jewel’ as a metonymic reference to his daughter that he gave to Othello.
Various metonymic expressions are used in this Act to show sexual relation between Othello and Desdemona, and sex in general.
- . Sexual Relation between Othello and Desdemona.
- An old black ram is tupping your white ewe. Act I, Scene I, 89-90.
It is an awful picture in which Iago shows the sexual relation between Othello and his legal wife Desdemona. He refers to it as an animalistic sexual relation.
- Are now making the beast with two backs. Act I, Scene I, 115.
Iago used this metonymic phrase to show the sexual relation between Othello and Desdemona.
It is a metonymic inference in which partners engaged in sexual intercourse in a 0fT ace0T to 0fT ace0T 0pT osition0,T based on the figurative appearance assumed by a 0cT ouple0T locked in such an 0eT mbrace0.T
- To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor. Act I, Scene I, 124.
It shows the sexual relation between Othello and Desdemona where she lies on the chest of this dissolute Moor in a hot situation where they exchange kisses and hugs intimately.
- The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. Act I, Scene III, 334-335.
Iago described the sexual relation between Othello and Desdemona as a sweet food and juice made of carob.
- . Sex in General.
- By which the property of youth and maidhood may be abused. Act I, Scene I, 170-171.
Brabantio refers to the sexual power within young men and women as the natural sexual instinct that is provoked by magic which made Desdemona disobeyed her father and had sexual intercourse with Othello.
- That weaken motion. Act I, Scene II, 75.
Brabantio used the word ‘ motion’ to show sexual relation between Othello and Desdemona. This word shows the strong sexual appetite within humans.
- Nor to comply with heat-the young affects in me defunct. Act I, Scene III, 334-335. The word “heat ‘ is a metonymic expression for hot sexual relation that is no longer strong for Othello. Othello wants to say that his relation with Desdemona is not
because of the sexual appetite; it is a relation based on love and true emotions.
- Who hast had my purse as if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this. Act I, Scene I, 2-3.
The word “purse” is a metonymic expression for life. It is full with events and experiences. Strings refer to years that we live which are short even if we live a hundred of years or not. Roderigo showed that life is just a short journey.
- To make this bitter to thee. Act I, Scene I, 103.
The word ‘ bitter ” refers to bitter life which Brabantio can cause to Othello.
- Till now some nine moons wasted. Act I, Scene III, 84.
Othello used ‘ nine moons “to refer to the nine years that passed of his age.
- . I have looked upon the world for four times seven years. Act I, Scene III, 306.
Iago used the expression ‘ four times seven years’ to show the twenty eight years that had passed of his age.
- Womb of time. Act I, Scene III, 349.
It is a metonymic expression for life which as if it is a woman that is pregnant.
This expression shows that life is full of events.
- War and Death.
- That never set a squadron in the field. Act I, Scene I, 22. Iago referred to the battleground by ” field’.
- And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof. Act I, scene I, 28.
The word “proof” refers to reality of death that warriors would face in the battlefield. It shows that death in war is a fatal reality that many soldiers can not avoid. It also shows that Othello has faced death and seen it in war.
- To lead their business. Act I, Scene I , 151.
War is like trade where one can see different kinds of people and different aspects of life as sorrow, joy and rest. Life is full with interests and benefits and so war.
- Though in the trade of war I have slain men. Act I , Scene II, 1.
War is a trade full of sellers and buyers. One to kill while other to be killed. Iago has to kill.
- The tyrant custom. Act I, Scene III, 226.
War is horrible dictator that would kill without mercy.
- Social Rank (Position).
- . I may command at most. Scene I, 179.
Brabantio shows his power by saying that he can order followers and find supporters so quickly.
- . A voice potential as double as the Duke’s. Scene II, 13-14.
Iago shows to Othello that Brabantio is a powerful person who can force his orders on anyone so quickly. He said that Brabantio has high position even higher than the Duke’s by proclaiming that his voice is as double (i.e. two times higher) than the voice of the Duke.
- The wealthy curled darlings of our nation. Scene II, 68.
Brabantio used the metonymic expression “The wealthy curled darlings of our nation” to refer to the strong, handsome and young Venetian men who have blond
curled hair. It is a racial discrimination towards Othello. This expression may include a social feature shows that Venetian men used to wear blond curled peruke.
- The very head and front of my offending. Scene, III, 80.
Othello assured that his position will not allow him to commit a mistake towards Desdemona and his rank will not allow him to exceed the legal relation with this lady to an illegal one. The head and the front are very respectable parts of the body because they represent honor so that Othello will not spoil his honor with such an awful sin.
- The trust, the office I do hold of you. Scene III, 118.
Othello used the word ‘ office ‘ to refer to his position that he has in Venice.
- . I know the price. Scene I, 11.
Iago used the metonymic expression ‘price ‘ to show his value and position in Venice.
- Where each second stood heir to the first. Scene I, 38.
The words second and first are used to show rank that everyone has and should everyone stands. Iago wants to say that ranks are taken through personal relations in many cases and not based on skills.
- My spirit and my place. Scene I, 102.
Brabantio threatens Othello that his position as a noble Venetian man enables him to cause harm to Othello.
- Cable. Scene I, 17.
The word cable is used to show the power and position that Brabantio has and that he can use this power to make Othello divorce Desdemona.
- Would you had had her. Scene I, 173.
Brabantio was sorry for not marrying Desdemona to Roderigo. He used the expression “had had her” to show that Roderigo would own Desdemona through marriage.
- He tonight hath boarded a land carrack. If it prove lawful prize, he’s made forever. Scene II, 50-51.
It is a metonymic expression to show Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. It shows that this marriage is legal prize that will last forever and nothing would separate them except death.
- Racial Discrimination towards Othello.
- Black Ram. Scene I, 88. A racial hint of Othello
- Barbary horse. Scene I , 110.
Racial description shows that Othello is a savage that should not marry this lady.
- In an extravagant and wheeling stranger. Scene I, 134.
Roderigo tried to insult Othello by claiming that he is just a homeless person who does not stay in one place; he is insignificant person .
- To the sooty bosom. Scene II, 70. A racial characteristic of Othello.
- The sense of all civility. Scene I, 129.
It is a racial discrimination towards Othello in which Roderigo wants to say that Othello is uncivilized person whereas Desdemona and the Venetian are noble and civilized ones. He also tried to show that Othello lacks courtesy.
- Knowledge, Science and Truth.
Certain metonymic expressions are used to show the desire to know what had happened and to seek science and truth.
- . Preferment goes by letter. Scene I, 36.
Iago used the word ‘letter’ to show the importance of science in giving people high ranks.
- Strike the tinder. Scene I, 138.
Brabantio wanted to know the truth about Othello and Desdemona. He wanted to light lights to find out what is going around him.
- Give me a taper. Scene I , 139.
Brabantio seeks knowledge by having candles to light the place to find out the truth of Othello and Desdemona.
- Light, I say: light. Scene I , 140.
Another metonymic expression for seeking the truth of this horrible news that Brabantio was told by Iago.
- Not gross in sense. Scene II, 72.
Brabantio swore that the story of Othello and Desdemona is true. It is obvious like the sun and looking for knowledge and truth is the most important thing that Brabantio was looking for.
- This accident is not unlike my dream. Scene I, 140.
Brabantio wants the truth by saying that this horrible matter is not confused dreams or chimeras; it is reality.
- The Shame.
- For shame, put on your gown. Scene I, 86.
Iago wanted to harm Brabantio by Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. He said it is a disgrace for Brabantio and so he wants to hide himself of people by covering himself with a gown so that they will not gibe him.
- You are – a senator. Scene I, 116.
Iago wanted to embrace Brabantio by saying to him you are a senator and any thing could harm your reputation and that you should feel shame of what your daughter had done.
- It is too true an evil. Gone she is. Scene I, 158.
Desdemona’s elopement and her marriage to Othello is a great shame for her noble father.
- Who would be a father. Scene I, 162.
Desdemona’s marriage to Othello is a disgrace for her father so he wondered who would like to a father of such girl that brings shame to her family after that.
- Are they married, think you? .Scene I, 165.
Feeling of such horrible shame; Brabantio wanted to make sure that Desdemona and Othello have got married legally.
- Oh, treason of the blood. Scene I, 167.
Brabantio considered Desdemona’s marriage to Othello a treachery. He is shame of such act that was like high treason of the country and the rules of nobility and family bonds.
- Thus do I ever make my fool my purse. Scene III, 358.
Iago wants to get benefit of Roderigo by considering a source of money that he can use any time. He used the word purse as a metonymic expression of this fool person as he said.
12.1. And hills whose heads touch heaven. Scene III, 140.
Othello expressed the height of the hills that he climbed in his travels as long things that their heads reached the sky.
- Friendship and Good Will.
- 1. Preferment goes by letter and affection. Scene I, 36.
Iago wanted to say that to get high ranks one must have good relations with those in power. He said that friendship, deep relations and intimate feelings would give some one high position rather than gradation or skills.
- In simple and pure soul. Scene I, 108.
Roderigo wanted to show Brabantio that he is an honest adviser whose will is clear and all he wants is to show Desdemona’s father the right way.
- 3. Perfect soul. Scene II, 31.
Othello used this expression to show his clear conscience towards Desdemona and that his marriage of her is not physical one.
14.1. In personal suit. Scene I, 9.
Iago used the expression (in personal suit) show his the close relation with Othello.
He wanted to say they he and Othello are two souls in one body.
- Oath by Honor and Manhood.
- And by faith of man. Scene, I, 10.
Iago wanted to show his loyalty to Othello by swearing with his honor and manhood which are of great value for a brave warrior like Iago.
- Stealing Desdemona.
- You are robbed. Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul. Scene, I, 86- 87.
Iago wanted to show Brabantio that Othello’s marriage to Desdemona is a robbery. He also wanted it to be more horrible to Brabantio by claiming that this theft is an awful one because Brabantio lost half his soul and that this heart had blown up by this scandal.
- The Body.
- My parts. Scene, II, 31.
This expression is a metonymic reference of the body. Othello wanted to say that he took care of his body not to be harmed by injuries and he also cautious not to insult his honor. He wanted to say that he is not willing to spoil his body and honor with wrong and illegal with Desdemona.
- Even now, now, very now. Scene I, 88.
The word (now) is used by Iago to show the fast speed in which Othello got married of Desdemona.
- The affair cries haste. Scene III, 273.
It showed that the matter is so serious and needs a quick discussion. This expression has a smile in which the affair is like a human being who cries for a quick help.
- Being Religious.
- You are one of those that will not serve God if the Devil bid you. Scene I, 109- 110.
Iago wanted to show that Brabantio is man of religion and honor so that he only follows the orders of God and if Satan bid him to obey God he will not obey.
- Hath made a gross revolt. Scene I, 132.
Desdemona’s marriage to Othello without her father’s permission is a gross rebel and revolution against her father and the regulations of her white noble society. By getting married of Othello he disobeyed her father’s will.
- Awake the snorting citizens. Scene, I, 90.
This metonymic expression refers to the Brabantio’s deep sleeping relatives who sleep in his palace.
- Coursers for cousins and jennets for germans. Scene I, 111.
It is an irony and metonymy of Brabantio’s relatives that he will have of Othello’s marriage to Desdemona.
- Being Punished.
- This thou shalt answer. Scene I, 117.
Brabantio threatened Roderigo that he would pay for his accusation of Desdemona.
The word answer is a metonymic reference of punishment.
- The worser welcome. Scene I, 95.
It is a metonymic reference that Roderigo is not a welcome person by Brabantio.
- Being Satisfied (Eating Enough Food)
- Being full of supper. Scene I, 99.
It is a metonymic reference to satisfaction of having enough food.
- Being Drunk.
- Distempering draughts .Scene I, 100.
It is a metonymic reference of being drunk.
- Upon malicious bravery.
Brabantio considered Roderigo of being so rude to come to Brabantio’s palace to inform about his daughter.
- 1. A moth of peace. Scene III, 253.
Desdemona considered herself a weak person who can not go to war as Othello.
- Or else the Devil will make a grandsire of you. Scene I, 91.
It is a metonymic reference of Brabantio’s weakness and sloth to go outside to find out the horrible matter that is waiting him about his daughter.
- Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave. Scene I, 45.
It is a metonymic reference of humiliation and dependency. Iago wanted to say that some people are willing to lay on their knees for their masters and that they are to do all things they are asked to do without saying no.
- Wasting Time in Serving.
- Wears out his time. Scene I, 47.
It is a metonymic reference of spending someone’s life in serving others till they become old like the donkeys which serve their owners till they become old and then they are sold or slaughtered or neglected with no mercy or gratitude.
- Hiding the Will (Hypocrisy).
- And when they have lined their coats. Scene I, 53.
Iago wanted to show that some people would not show their inner will and thought which are completed opposite to their declared will or thoughts. It is hypocrisy.
- Showing the Will.
- But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve. Scene I, 64.
Iago will declare his true will at the right moment. The expression ‘but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve’ means that I will open my heart to public so that they can know my aims.
32.2. Which is indeed but sign. Scene I, 155.
Iago hid his inner feelings about Othello and he only showed a sign of loyalty to Othello whereas the truth is completely different.
- Social Relation
- ‘Tis the curse of service. Scene I, 35.
Iago wanted to say that private relation are better than skills for having a high position.
- Change of Happiness through Scandal.
- Poison his delight. Scene I, 68.
It is a metonymic reference of sadness and grief that would Brabantio have of his daughter’s scandal.
33. Proclaim him in the streets. Scene I, 69. Iago wanted to expose Brabantio in public.
- Plague him with flies. Scene I, 71.
Iago wanted to insult Brabantio by make him sad of this horrible scandal. Flies cause plague and illness and so scandals for noble people.
- As it may lose some color. Scene I, 73.
Cholera and plague change the color to yellow which a symbol of pale and sickness. Such thing makes life tiring and so scandal changes happiness to grief so Iago wanted to cause Brabantio sadness.
- Roaming and Traveling from Place to Place.
- Wheeling Stranger. Scene I, 134.
Iago wanted to say that Othello does not stay in one place; he has no home or family ‘ he is just a traveler with a chariot.
- Tented field. Scene III, 85.
Othello wanted to tell the people of Venice that he is a strong man who used to do hard works and who used live in tents. This expression showed that Othello was a traveler and a warrior in an army that won’t stay in one place.
- Loyalty to Othello.
- 1. I must show out a flag and sign of love. Scene I, 154.
Iago claimed love and loyalty to Othello. He wanted to say that his loyalty and love of Othello are very high as the flag so that everyone can see and feel in words and deeds. When, in fact, he has not just show real love to Othello.
- I’ll deserve your pains. Scene I, 181.
Brabantio wanted to reward Roderigo for his honesty so he said that he appreciated Roderigo’s exhaustion.
- Keeping Silent.
- 1. Shall out –tongue his complaints. Scene II, 19.
Othello wanted to say that his deeds are more powerful than Brabantio’s power so that they will silence his claims.
- Waken Brabantio.
- Raised father. Scene II, 28.
Iago used this expression to show that Brabantio has woken up to see the horrible deed by his daughter.
- 1. A business of some heat. Scene II, 40.
It means that the matter is very dangerous and needs serious discussion.
- At one another’s heels. Scene I, 42.
It means that things happen quickly and situations accelerate so fast.
- Talking to the family.
- 1. I will but spend a word here in the house. Scene I, 48. It means speaking with the family.
- Bad Will.
- 1. Bad intent. Scene II, 56. It means having bad will.
- No Fight.
- Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Scene II, 59.
It means no fight. This is the kind of thing that many men fantasize about; with a few well-chosen words, the hero calms an angry crowd. “Keep up your bright swords” means put your bright and sharpen swords back in their sheaths,” and “the dew will rust them” is a bit of gentle sarcasm because it means little fresh air will rust them. Othello is reminding the men he’s facing that their swords will be quite useless. He and his men are brave soldiers whereas Brabantio’s followers are policemen and bare civilians who had not tested wars. Also, Othello subtly tells Brabantio that he should remember that he’s old; Othello respects his “years,” not his “weapons.”
- Wisdom by Time.
- You shall more command with years than with your weapons. Scene II, 60-61. Age and years give man wisdom rather than weapon.
- Living Creatures.
- All things of sense. Scene II, 64.
Brabantio will talk to living things to complain about Othello.
- Bad Deeds.
- Arts inhibited and out of warrant. Scene II, 79.
The word ‘arts’ refers to bad and awful deeds that Othello had.
- Honest Women.
- World. Scene II, 78.
Brabantio used this word to refer to honest women that are abused by the magic that Othello used to seduced Desdemona.
- Stay Away.
- Hold your hands. Scene II, 80.
Othello asked those who came to arrest him to stay away and not to touch him.
- Knowing role.
- Were it my cue to fight. Scene II, 82.
Othello said he was aware of his role and there was no need for anyone to tell him what to say or do as it was in a play on the stage.
- Court (Justice).
- Till fit time of law and course of direct session. Scene II, 85.
Brabantio wanted to tell Othello that he will be imprisoned till the day court where he be sentenced for his wrong deed of Desdemona.
- Brabantio’s Problem.
- 1. Mine’s not an idle cause. Scene II, 95.
Brabantio wanted to say that his issue (i.e. Othello’s marriage of Desdemona) is not a simple one that might be delayed.
- The aim reports. Scene III, 6.
The second senator affirmed that spies sent news and reports about the Turk fleet.
Now, what’s the business. Scene III, 13.
The word ‘ business’ refers to the news about the Turkish preparation to invade Rhodes.
- Mind Confusion.
- To keep us in false gaze. Scene III, 19.
The first senator used this expression to say that the news about the Turkish fleet is a trick to confuse the Venetians.
56.1.’Tis a pageant. Scene III, 18.
The news about the Turkish fleet is an exaggeration.
- Simplicity and Easiness.
- With more facile question bear it. Scene III, 23.
The matter is very simple and does not need such discussion.
- The Turk’s Fleet.
- He’s not for Rhodes. Scene III, 31.
The pronoun ‘ he ‘ refers to the Turkish fleet.
- Moving to Rhodes.
Steering with due course. Scene III, 35.
This expression refers to the Turkish fleets that sailed straight to Rhodes.
- Punishment (Death Penalty).
- The bloody book. Scene III, 67.
It refers to the penal code which included the death punishment for crimes as Othello’s.
- The bitter letter. Scene III, 68.
It refers to the penal code which has serious punishments for crimes.
- But let your sentence even fall upon my life. Scene III, 119.
Othello was ready for capital punishment if they found him guilty of seducing or bewitching Desdemona.
- Othello’s Early Childhood.
61.1 For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith. Scene III, 83. The number ‘ seven ‘ refers to early years of Othello’s life.
- Admission of Guilt.
- If you do find me foul in her report. Scene III, 116.
Othello wanted the court to punish him if they found him guilty of seducing Desdemona.
- Passion for Listening.
- 1. Greedy Ear. Scene III, 148.
Othello used this expression to show that Desdemona listened to his tales will all ears.
- Showing Sorrow and Affect.
- 1. A world of sighs. Scene III, 158.
Othello used this expression to show Desdemona’s affect of the difficulties that he had in the course of his life.
- Heaven. Scene III, 162. It refers to the Almighty.
- The moment of Desdemona’s love of Othello.
- Hint. Scene III, 165.
Othello used this word to refer to the moment in which felt that Desdemona had fallen in love with him. He decided to get this chance to tell her that he loves her.
- Attract other women (Seduction of women).
- 1. I think this tale would win my daughter too. Scene III, 170.
The duke believed that Othello’s tales would attract other women so that they would fall in love with him. He used the word tale to refer to Othello’s story that attracted Desdemona which would even attract his daughter.
- Sweet Words not Swords.
- Men do their broken weapons rather use than their bare hands. Scene III, 173- 174.
The duke thought that men would use words of love and attraction to have women’s hearts instead of using actions of fight. Sweet words are broken weapons that do not harm like bare hands which are ready for war. They win hearts by words not swords.
- Obedience and respect of husband and parents.
- 1. I do perceive here a divided duty. Scene III, 180.
Desdemona used the expression ‘ divided duty ‘ to refer to her duty towards her father and husband. He owed breeding and education to her father but he must respect and obey her husband and to some extent she may put him before her father as her mother did towards her father and husband.
- My life upon her faith. Scene II, 291.
Othello expressed his love, obedience and loyalty to Desdemona by saying that his life and soul are in her hands.
- Home Arrest.
- To hang clogs on them. Scene III, 197.
Brabantio wants to prevent his children from running away as Desdemona did so he would arrest them at home but if he would do this he would be a tyrant in a manner that he hates.
Brabantio was democratic and tolerant with his daughter in the matter that led her to betray him by getting married to Othello.
- The place. Scene III, 221.
It refers to the island of Cyprus.
- Trust in Othello.
- 1. Safer voice. Scene III, 223.
It refers to trust in Othello and that the people of Venice feel safe with Othello.
- Bravery and power
- Steel couch of war. Scene III, 227.
War strengthens men. Men use swords that need strong hands.
- My thrice-driven bed of down. Scene III, 228.
Fight strengthens bodies. Othello wanted to say that war and fight are better for him than smooth life.
- Embarrassing Father.
- Impatient thoughts. Scene III, 239.
Desdemona did not want to embarrass and confuse her father as he saw her.
- Listening carefully.
- 1. Prosperous ear. Scene III, 241.
Desdemona wanted the Duke to listen carefully to her issue.
- Let her have your voices. Scene III, 257.
Othello wanted the duke and other men to give Desdemona the permission to listen to her.
- Breaking sexual appetite.
- 1. Palate of my appetite. Scene III, 259.
Othello used this expression metaphorically to show the sweetness of sex. He assured that his passion of youth and sex is dead and that he loved Desdemona for her soul not for her body.
- Nor to comply with heat. Scene III, 260.
Othello assured that the desire of sex and libido is dead for him and he only love Desdemona for mind and soul not for her body.
- Sleeping Deep and Dreaming.
- Drown myself. Scene III, 302.
Roderigo wanted to go in deep sleep and have nice dreams.
- Showing harshness and cruelty.
- An usurped beard. Scene III, 329.
Iago wanted Roderigo to change his physical appearance by having a beard. It indicated that Iago wanted to hide inner thoughts. It also indicated that Iago wanted Roderigo to prepare himself for war which needs harshness not smoothness.
- This. Scene III, 350.
The word ‘ this ‘ refers to the conversation between Iago and Roderigo.
- Leaving (Departure).
- I’ll go sell all my land. Scene III, 356.
Roderigo wanted to leave Venice so he decided to sell all his properties to break any relation and feelings with Venice.
- Controlling Othello.
- Be led by the nose as asses are.
Iago used this expression to show his complete control of Othello.
- Trick (Awful Plot).
- It. Scene III, 377.
It refers to Iago’s awful plot towards Othello.
- Monstrous birth. Scene III, 378.
Iago wanted to show that the plot that he had to Othello is very awful and it is the time for it to be alive i.e. to accomplish it.
- Kindness of Othello.
- The Moor is of a free and open nature. Scene III, 374.
It showed that Othello is a kind warrior who has merciful heart that is free of plot and spite opposite to Iago.
- Becoming Real (Coming to life and being achieved)
- 1. To the world’s light. Scene III, 378.
Iago’s plots towards Othello will come the world of Unseen to the world of seen (i.e. it will see light and become true soon).
The present paper aimed at investigating metonymy in the first act of Othello. It discussed the different metonymic expressions used by Othello’s characters. The paper showed a number of metonymic expressions used for Othello, Desdemona, and other human and non-human figures.
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