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How far would you agree that Desdemona is established as a tragic victim in Act 4 scene 3?

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´╗┐Olivia Clinton How far would you agree that Desdemona is established as a tragic victim in Act 4 scene 3? In 4.3 Desdemona is sent to bed by Othello with the instructions to dismiss Emilia and wait for his arrival. Desdemona is depicted by Shakespeare as both passive by being naive and also strong minded by being able to go against her father and make her own decisions. There is no doubt that Desdemona is a victim in ?Othello?, but whether she is a tragic victim is a matter of contention. In the scene, the brief appearance of Lodovico presents Desdemona with the type of man that she could have been happy and content with, and not endured the hardships she has suffered with Othello. Emilia and Desdemona have an age-old gossip about the ?very handsome man?[1] and Emilia knows ?a lady in Venice that would have walked barefoot to Palestine// for a touch of his nether lip.?[2] This suggests that a woman would do anything for this man. Because she specifies ?lady? the woman could be a lady of high status. It also highlights that Desdemona is almost a fool for disregarding Lodovico and marrying an ?improper? man; a black moor, Othello. ...read more.


A.C Bradley believes that ?He is to save Desdemona from herself, not in hate but in honour; in honour, and also in love?.[6] The two contrasting sides of Desdemona, the virtuous, gratifying, naive and angelic versus the confident and strong minded create the sense that she is not capable of such a controversial marriage. Throughout the scene, Shakespeare has created foreshadowing in Desdemona?s speech, an example being ?The Willow song?[7], a song sung by her mother?s maid, Barbary, whose lover had been proved ?mad? and she had died singing the song. Shakespeare makes the audience know that her death is soon as Desdemona tells Emilia that the song ?Will not go from my mind?. Desdemona and Barbary are in ways, very similar. Like Barbary, Desdemona is in love, and her husband, though not "mad," is insanely jealous and has emotionally forsaken Desdemona. Presumably, Barbary died of a broken heart while singing ?the willow song?, Desdemona will die at the hands of her love soon after she sings the same song. Desdemona's thoughts create a sense of foreboding, but she many not have any idea that she is about to die. She's depressed by losing Othello's love, and so the song comes into her head. ...read more.


Victor Hugo makes the point that ?To kill is to lull to sleep. ? And it is thus that Desdemona, spouse of the man Night, dies, stifled by the pillow upon which the first kiss was given, and which receives the last sigh.?[11] This highlights the dramatic irony that Desdemona is to be killed in the bed that she started her married life in, by the man she gave her life to. Hugo is almost leading us to believe that Othello?s method of murder is thoughtful and kind to Desdemona by suggesting that the killing is to ?lull to sleep?, and not a revengeful, gruesome death. Desdemona?s enduring love and unwillingness to defend herself with an argument she is easily capable of, is her tragic flaw, leading to her ultimate downfall. Desdemona is perceived by Shakespeare as a perfect woman but also as ironically foolish. Her undeniably great love for Othello, pulls the wool over her eyes to what is really happening around her; the every growing jealousy of Othello. She threatens her life by wanting to please, him but in a male dominated society, she is a victim of bitter lies and domination. Although she can?t help being a woman, there were many opportunities to defend herself against the prejudices. I believe that Desdemona is not a tragic victim because if she used her good judgment, which she undoubtedly has, she could have avoided Othello using the last resort to silence her. ...read more.

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