Early modern English writers demonstrate an exceptionally lively interest in curtain lectures, devotedly rehashing popular "merry tales" of curtain lecture wives in ballads, collections of jests, conduct books, and pamphlets devoted entirely to the theme. Reviewing the fictions of the curtain lecture wife in literary texts and examining them as they recrudesce in Othello reveals the curtain lecture to be an integral image that reinforces the argument Iago pours into Othello's ear and, effects the unraveling of that argument. As part of his ironic deployment of curtain lecture fictions, William Shakespeare deliberately conflates the divine Desdemona with the shrewish wife by permitting Desdemona herself to joke about the characterization. Perfecting the fictive wife's performance of conversational stops and starts, frowns, and contracting of brows, Iago "watches" Othello, gloating that neither poppy nor mandragora can medicine him to sweet sleep.