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Shakespeare's Othello Desdemona In Othello

1883 words - 8 pages

Desdemona in Othello  

    In William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello, the wife of the protagonist is Desdemona. She is a lovely, intelligent, wholesome and pious person. This essay will analyze her.


In Act 1 Scene1, Iago persuades the rejected suitor of Desdemona, Roderigo, to accompany him to the home of Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, in the middle of the night. Once there the two awaken him with loud shouts about his daughter’s elopement with Othello. In response to Iago’s vulgar descriptions of Desdemona’s involvement with the general, Brabantio arises from bed and, with Roderigo’s help, gathers a search party to go and find Desdemona and bring her home. The father’s attitude is that life without his Desdemona will be much worse than before:


It is too true an evil: gone she is;

     And what's to come of my despised time

     Is nought but bitterness. (1.1)


So obviously the senator has great respect for his daughter, or at least for the comforts which she has afforded him up the beginning of the play. This respect is shared by her new husband Othello, who says to Iago


that I love the gentle Desdemona,

     I would not my unhoused free condition

     Put into circumscription and confine

     For the sea's worth. (1.2)


Once that Brabantio has located Othello, the father presses charges publicly in order to have Desdemona returned:


     To prison, till fit time

     Of law and course of direct session

     Call thee to answer. (1.2)


The proceedings which take place before the Duke of Venice cause the father to permanently lose his daughter, mostly due to Desdemona’s own fluent presentation of her point of view in the city council chamber. This results in Brabantio’s virtual disowning of her and not allowing her to live in his house while Othello’s campaign against the Turks in Cyprus is in progress. Thus it would seem that Desdemona has been living her life with a father who is primarily interested in self and less in Desdemona. And yet she has emerged unscarred psychologically, and capable of deep love for Othello.


Entrusted to the ancient’s care and that of his Emilia, Desdemona arrives at the seaport of Cyprus. While waiting there for Othello’s ship, she grows tired of Iago’s derogatory comments directed at his wife, and she quite matter-of-factly states her mind: “O, fie upon thee, slanderer!” and even directs Iago’s focus off of Emilia and onto her ownself: “What wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst praise me?” Her total forthrightness and courage show her to be the daughter of a senator! She continues to critique the ancient’s answers to her questions:  “These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i' the alehouse” and “O heavy ignorance! thou praisest the worst best.” She is not fearful or reticent in the least.


 Once that her husband has safely arrived on the island and disembarked, she greets him...

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