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Desdemona has often been seen only as the innocent victim of malice.This view does not do justice to the complexity of Shakespeare's portrayal of her.To what extent do you agree with this judgement?

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Introduction

Desdemona has often been seen only as the innocent victim of malice. This view does not do justice to the complexity of Shakespeare's portrayal of her. To what extent do you agree with this judgement? Desdemona's physical and vocal absence from the opening scenes speak volumes about women's place in seventeenth century Venetian society. It is through Desdemona's absence that we are able to conjure up our own mental image of her based on what we have heard. Upon hearing the news of his daughter's love for Othello, Barbantio begins to make accusations about what Othello has done "thou hast enchanted her", "she is abused, stol'n from me". ...read more.

Middle

This is apparent throughout the play as Desdemona is not referred to by her name, but by "she", "my daughter", "fair lady" and "young maid" bringing about a lack of identity for Desdemona. She is seen in relation to the man she is with. Viewing Desdemona, as an innocent victim is something we as an audience are tricked into doing before we even meet her. Barbantio claims his daughter was "corrupted by spells and medicines" and accuses Othello of witchcraft to win his daughter's love "thou hast practised on her with foul charms". This shows that Barbantio views her as innocent and not capable of following her own feelings. ...read more.

Conclusion

Barbantio, expecting Desdemona to follow her education as opposed her emotions is shocked to see his daughter rebel. Desdemona decides that just as her mother did to her father, she now must do the same to her father "you are lord of all my duty", "but here' my husband", "and so much duty as my mother showed to you, preferring you before her father","I may profess due to the moor my lord". Desdemona's rebellious behaviour brings about a more confident and rounded side of her, a side with an identity as opposed to an inanimate possession. Viewing Desdemona as an innocent victim of malice definitely does not do justice to Shakespeare's portrayal of her as a more complex and more rounded character. ...read more.

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