Othello Navigator: Themes and Motifs: The Handkerchief
Othello confronts Desdemona, and then her to death in their bed. When Emilia arrives, Othello accuses Desdemona of adultery. Emilia calls for help. The former governor Montano arrives, with Gratiano and Iago. When Othello mentions the handkerchief as proof, Emilia realizes what her husband Iago has done, and she exposes him, whereupon he kills her. Othello, belatedly realising Desdemona's innocence, stabs Iago but not fatally, saying that he would rather have Iago live the rest of his life in pain.
The handkerchief was a family heirloom of Othello's which he treasured dearly. When Othello hears (from the manipulator Iago) of Cassio wearing his beloved handkerchief, he is told by Iago that it was Desdemona herself who gave it to him. Othello believes the handkerchief to be a symbol of their marriage and due to the fact that she has given it to another man, he believes Desdemona has given herself to another man: "That handkerchief which i so loved and gave to thee, thou gav'st to Cassio."
Othello, however, is already deep into ill thinking, and when he arrives on the scene he sets a trap for his wife, saying, . She offers him a handkerchief, but he asks for the one he gave her. When she tells him that she doesn't have it with her, he tells her why it should never be lost. It was given to Othello's mother by an Egyptian who was . Egyptians -- like the gypsies who were thought to be descended from them -- had the reputation of being able to cast charms and foretell the future, and this one told Othello's mother that the handkerchief had a special magic. As long as Othello's mother kept it, she would keep the love of her husband, but that . When she was dying, Othello's mother gave him the handkerchief and told him to give it to his wife when he married. Therefore, Othello warns Desdemona, [loss, damnation] .Othello has just questioned Desdamona about the handkerchief he first gave her. When Desdemona cannot produce the handkerchief he wants to see, Othello explains the handkerchief’s history.