In the fourth act of Othello, Shakespeare employs a literary device known as symbolism. He particularly builds upon an artifact or object that represents something more than its typical use. I refer to the handkerchief. In the opening scene Othello knows that Cassio has Desdemona’s handkerchief. Why is this significant? Because the handkerchief represents more than something used to wipe your face or head.
The object represents the affections of Desdemona and the relationship of whoever possesses it. Thus, in Cassio’s hand, the artifact symbolizes a connection between him and Desdemona.These sorts of literary symbols appear in other stories and in modern life. For example, in the Lord of the Rings, the travelers receive gifts from the Elves, such as a sword and a magic light. These things do function practically, providing protection and illumination, but they also represent something more. As symbolic objects, the sword and light hold special confidence for the characters and connect them with the Elves. Likewise, in real life, I find objects that hold more meaning and value that their practical function.
For example, I have a photograph of my family on my desk. This allows me to see them, show others, and offers some satisfaction on an artistic level. But more importantly, it connects me with them. It provides a spark of memory whereby I can recall that moment and the other times we have shared. It makes a people geographically distant come right in my room. The symbolic objects or artifacts in other literature and life confirm the role of the handkerchief in Othello. I agree with Shakespeare’s use of the object. These mundane things can represent grand meanings. Most of all, they can influence grand action. For these objects inspire affections and behaviors because of how much people value them.