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Their hearts in their hands

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on May 01, 2007

In Reply to: Their hearts in their hands posted by ESC on May 01, 2007

: : They are walking down the street with "their hearts in their hands".

: : What does the phrase mean, "their hearts in their hands"?

: I am guessing that it means opening showing emotions. The same as this:

: It is sure as you are Roderigo,
: Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
: In following him, I follow but myself;
: Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
: But seeming so, for my peculiar end;
: For when my outward action doth demonstrate
: The native act and figure of my heart
: In complement extern, 'tis not long after
: But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.
: For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.
: Othello, Act 1, scene 1, 56-65

: .when your heart is displayed so openly, as if upon your sleeve, the 'daws' (jackdaws) will accept the invitation to pick away at it. By admitting to his treachery, Iago would seem, in effect, to 'wear his heart on his sleeve' for Roderigo. Yet, while Iago tells the truth, he doesn't tell all of it, and keeps hidden his true 'native act and figure' - his intention to dupe Roderigo out of even more jewels and cash." From "Brush Up Your Shakespeare!" by Michael Macrone (Gramercy Books, New York, 1990).

The original metaphor in "wearing one's heart upon one's sleeve refers to feudal retainers wearing their lord's badge on their sleeves, to show whose followers they were, or to lovers wearing their mistress's scarf or handkerchief there. To the mediaeval mind, the sleeve was the natural place to display one's allegiance. (VSD)