“I am not correct in my quotation.. ‘Tis not to make me jealous, to say my wife is fair, loves company, sings, dances well… most virtuous.”
This quote is from Othello by Shakespeare but is misquoted by Sophia. The quote comes from act 3 scene 3 of Othello and it’s Othello’s dialogue with Iago who, is plotting Othello’s demise. Shakespeare has this speech delivered after Othello murders Desdemona and Sophia says this after her description of the wedding of an East India Company man. It is true that Gibbes quotes English Literary works left and right throughout the novel, and I chose to focus on this quote because it comes during a critical moment of the wedding of the East India man and when Sophia meets Bramin, who she falls in love with.
This quote sets up Sophia’s discomfort with herself and her growing affection for Bramin. Sophia is also put in the position of Desdemona in the sense that she is falling for a man of another race just as Desdemona had chosen Othello regardless of him being of another race. Bramin would thus be Othello which would mean that if Bramin and Sophia were to marry Sophia might meet the same fate as Desdemona. Later on in the novel Sophia makes the comment that Indian men look older than their age while the English look young well into old age. Many would pass this off as a teenager being worried about appearances and not wanting to grow old; but I find it to be symbolic in the sense that if she marries Doyly she gets to return to Britain and live longer while if she marries Bramin there is potential consequences such as an early death.
I believe Sophia overly quotes English literary works because she thinks it helps get her meaning across. She is writing to her friend in Britain and is trying to convey her point in a way that her friend will understand. She uses the references in the same way kids and adults use pop cultural references to explain themselves better. I also noticed that Sophia seems to try to make everything simpler to understand for her friend Arabella so it could also be that these references could be used as compare and contrasts to give Arabella a better image of what Sophia is going through and experiencing. The references are there to bridge the gap between both cultures.
I think the selective quotations help us see that those works of literature were the most popular works of that time. They were so well known that she would be able to casually mention it in a letter to her friend and her friend would understand it. It also goes to show that they were in the Enlightenment period because Gibbes is able to use Othello as a reference for one of the first written interracial marriage.