Desdemona as a Gem

After Desdemona proclaims her loyalty to her husband, Brabantio says a bitter farewell to his daughter: "For your sake [because of what you have done], jewel, / I am glad at soul I have no other child: / For thy escape would teach me tyranny, / To hang clogs on them"(1.3.195-198). "Clogs" are heavy blocks of wood tied to prisoners to keep them from running away. Brabantio knows that only a tyrant would use clogs on his child, but since his "jewel" has run away from him, he would use them on another child, if he had one. These are the last words Brabantio says to Desdemona, and in the last scene of the play we learn that he died of a broken heart over her marriage. [Scene Summary]

Complaining to Iago that all of his efforts haven't gotten him any closer to Desdemona, Roderigo says "The jewels you have had from me to deliver to Desdemona would half have corrupted a votarist [nun]" (4.2.186-188). Knowing Iago, we know that Desdemona has never received or even heard of Roderigo's jewels, but his statement implicitly compares her beauty to that of a jewel and her purity to that of a nun. [Scene Summary]

After he shows Roderigo where he must hide in readiness to attack Cassio, Iago stands aside and comments on what is about to happen. He says that he doesn't care whether Roderigo kills Cassio or Cassio kills Roderigo. He'd be happy to see them both dead. Roderigo, if he lives, "calls me to a restitution large / Of gold and jewels that I bobb'd from him, / As gifts to Desdemona" (5.1.15-17). [Scene Summary]

After he has killed Desdemona, Othello justifies himself to Emilia, saying that his wife was false and that "had she been true, / If heaven would make me such another world / Of one entire and perfect chrysolite, / I'ld not have sold her for it" (5.2.143-146). In Shakespeare's time "chrysolite" was used as the name of any gem of a green or yellowish-green color.

In the same scene, at the very end of the play Othello pays a last tribute to Desdemona, saying that he "Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away / Richer than all his tribe" (5.2.347-348). [Scene Summary]