• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore the presentation of Desdemona in Othello

Extracts from this document...


Jacqueline Brown - 12 Jerome Explore the presentation of Desdemona in Othello Othello is one of Shakespeare's four greatest tragedies, exploring the timeless themes of love, greed and jealousy by questioning how far a man is willing to go to obtain his selfish desires. Othello is a highly esteemed Moor general in the service of Venice who falls in love with and marries, against society's expectations, a young and beautiful Venetian woman Desdemona. Throughout the play the couples love and devotion are tested when Iago, a so called 'honest' friend begins accusing the faithful Desdemona of having an affair with Othello's trusted Lieutenant. Through manipulation and misinterpretation Iago accomplishes his revenge culminating in the tragic and untimely murder of Desdemona. Throughout history many audiences have had different reactions towards Shakespeare's construct. Some see Desdemona as the stereotypical weak and submissive Jacobean wife who allows her husband and males in general, to manipulate and control her as they wish. Others see her as a brave and forthright woman ahead of her time in her free thinking and bawdy jesting. When during Act two scene one Desdemona is awaiting the arrival of Othello in Cyprus we see her wit and openly trusting character 'O heavy ignorance! Thou paisest the worst the best. ...read more.


Thieves, thieves!' and also when Brabantio shouts at Othello 'O thou foul thief! Where hast thou stowed my daughter?' This demonstrates the way in which in the Jacobean era women were seen as property throughout their lives; their father's before they were married and their husbands after. When we look at these quotations at word level we can immediately see the connotations of possession in the verbs such as 'stowed'. Shakespeare does this purposely so the audience will subconsciously think of treasure and possessions. However it is not just her father who views Desdemona as a piece of property. When Desdemona arrives in Cyprus Cassio idealises her to the men 'The riches of the ship is come on shore!' Although he is alluding to Desdemona's beauty we can still see the undertones of a male dominated society where women were just possessions to be thrown around in any way deemed useful. Throughout Othello many allusions are made to the innocence and purity of Desdemona. In the beginning of the play where Iago tells Brabantio of Desdemona's elopement he uses phrases such as 'white ewe'. Through the use of the colour white the audience immediately links Desdemona to that which we associate that colour, goodness, purity and innocence. In Iago's conversation with Brabantio we are also shown the juxtaposition of Desdemona and Othello who is referred to as a 'black ram.' ...read more.


We see the difference in the two women most clearly in their conversation about adultery in Act four scene three. 'In troth, I think I should, and undo't when I had done it.' Desdemona's obvious shock at Emilia's open confession that she would commit the crime of adultery clearly depicts her innocence and her absolute devotion to Othello in the way she could never imagine how anyone would want to commit adultery therefore connoting Shakespeare's juxtaposition of the two characters. In conclusion Shakespeare's Desdemona id a complicated character who throughout the play is used ashamedly by those who are supposed to love her. Through her innocence and devotion to Othello and refusing to see the evil in the world o r those around her Desdemona does in a way bring about her death. However does that make her in any way to blame? To me no, Desdemona is bullied cruelly throughout her short life by those men she held in highest regard. First by her father in his possessiveness and eventual rejection of her love, later by Iago, a man she perceives to be her friend, in his sickening plot for revenge and finally and most disgustingly by her own husband who refuses to believe her pleas of innocence and silences her forever in death. To me Shakespeare's Desdemona is a victim of her inability to see the evil and possessive side of humanity. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Male Domination In Othello

    4 star(s)

    Desdemona just like 'Hero' in the play 'Much Ado about Nothing' shows total submissiveness even at the point of death. Even after receiving a very undeserving slap from Othello in public, all she says is 'I will not stay to offend you.'

  2. Explore the presentation of the relationship between Othello and Iago

    This is shown through Othello's changing language that was once so pure and sweet, but by the end, is so bitter and incensed; such is the influence of Iago. Iago finds his way into Othello's trust and his mind; their paths become parallel, then one.

  1. shakespeares presentation of Iago

    Iago gets the handkerchief by snatching it off Emilia, '[snatching it] Why, what's that to you?', Act III, Scene III, line 139. This shows that he doesn't care about anyone at this moment; he wants to carry on his evil plans.

  2. Explore Shakespeare(TM)s presentation of the changes in Othello(TM)s character in the play Othello(TM)

    Furthermore, "services which I have done the signory, shall out-tongue his complaints", illustrating his confident qualities by stating that his past duties will outweigh Brabantio's accusations, portraying his stable and determined character. Othello's modest qualities are also shown by the methods he uses to tackle Brabantio's accusations - "Most potent,

  1. How far do we see different attitudes to love presented in Othello?

    The fact that Othello is a "ram" and Desdemona an "ewe" does not just reduce their love to merely a fulfillment of animalistic desires, but also puts them at the bottom of the Great Chain of Being, therefore condemning the affair altogether.

  2. Othello Themes

    He also believes that Cassio has been sleeping with his wife Amelia. There are hints for the first time throughout the play that Iago could possibly have feelings for Othello and could be using Desdemona as a way to come closer to him.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work