So I was flipping through Othello today helping somebody look for a monologue, and I was struck by Emilia’s reaction to Othello right at the end of the play, where Othello basically says “Iago told me everything” and it all falls into place for Emilia. Check it out:
Cassio did top her; ask thy husband else.
O, I were damn’d beneath all depth in hell,
But that I did proceed upon just grounds
To this extremity. Thy husband knew it all.
That she was false to wedlock?
Ay, with Cassio. Nay, 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.
Ay, ’twas he that told me first:
An honest man he is, and hates the slime
That sticks on filthy deeds.
What needs this iteration, woman? I say thy husband.
Emilia repeats the exact same line 3 times. Othello even asks her “Why do you keep repeating yourself?”
Somebody get into her head for me. How do you play that? Is it denial? Not necessarily that her husband is a bastard, I’m sure she knows that – I’m thinking more that Emilia recognizes that if *she’d* seen through Iago sooner, then Desdemona might still be alive.
Or is it more like “That son of a b*tch I’ll kill him!” Like she’s not even listening to Othello, she’s already put everything together in her head and now the fact that she keeps saying “My husband” over and over again has nothing to do with Othello.
Or, something else?
Mostly just curious. If she’d said it once, or if she’d worded it differently each time, I wouldn’t even have noticed. But the repetition is obviously there for a reason, so as an actor or director how do you make it work? Why does she do that?