The handkerchief is an object of immense emotional value to Othello as it is one of the last vestige of his mother. He presents it to Desdemona to show his love and devotion to her. The white color and red embroidery on it, represent the chastity of a virgin blood. Therefore as long as she kept it with her, symbolically she remained loyal and chaste, at least in the eyes of Othello. When Emilia steals it on Iago’s behest and then Iago gives it to a prostitute to claim it as a gift from Cassio, it signifies the ultimate betrayal and humiliation for Othello. This leads his anger and jealousy overboard and he ends up smothering his wife to death.
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