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How do you react to Shakespeare's presentation of Desdemona, in Act 5 Scene 2, lines 21-85, and elsewhere in the play? How have your opinions been formed by what Desdemona says and what others say about her?

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Introduction

How do you react to Shakespeare's presentation of Desdemona, in Act 5 Scene 2, lines 21-85, and elsewhere in the play? How have your opinions been formed by what Desdemona says and what others say about her? William Shakespeare's Othello is a play that explores the societies existing in Venice at the beginning of the 1600s, and shows the roles of the men and women of that society. Through his characters, Shakespeare is able to reveal the morals, attitudes and beliefs present in the Venetian society through the play. Due to this reason Shakespeare represents in his play the expected social roles of women and develops the roles that the women have in the Venetian society. Desdemona is a main female character and is essential in developing the plot and theme of the play. Desdemona fell in love with Othello because she loved hearing his stories "I saw his visage in his mind" They shared closeness and at first had a good relationship. Desdemona honoured her husband and chose him over her father. Shakespeare presented Desdemona as such an innocent character that she does not fully understand the depth of Othello's jealous emotions. She totally misinterprets the handkerchief case, and even when Othello was getting more and more angry, she kept talking about Cassio which suggests she has feelings towards him. She has so much love and commitment for Othello; she wants to live with him in every sense and can not bear to be parted from him. ...read more.

Middle

In Act 2 scene 1 you can easily see the relationship between Othello and Desdemona. Othello and Desdemona hold hand in hand, they treat each other as equals. But then you see the relationship with Iago and Emila. It is totally different; Iago treats her with no respect. She is only a toy to him, nothing more and nothing less. "Sir, would she give you so much of her lips As of her tongue she has bestow'd on me" This is Iago's opinion all women. As Cassio greets Emilia with a kiss, when his wife objects that this is untrue, Iago elaborates on what he think women are, criticising them for behaving which hide their real natures. Apart for the irony of these comments they may reveal something of the relationship between Iago and Emilia. To an Elizabethan audience this would seem normal a wife's were treated in this manner. But to an audience in today's time would find it incredibly strange and unfair, this is because today women have more rights, they can also work and more. But in Elizabethan times women were treaded totally different, not like partners but like a toy. Later Desdemona tries to help Cassio get back his position, after Iago makes a fool of him. This scene links to the court room scene (Act 1 scene 3). Desdemona has a divided duty in this play and is one of the reasons Othello edventully smothers her. She helps her friends, she will do all she can to help them but she would also do anything to help her husband. ...read more.

Conclusion

Desdemona lies asleep in bed and Othello enters certain that his reason for killing Desdemona is correct. Othello says that it isn't jealousy that drives him to kill her; it's that Desdemona can't have another opportunity to do wrong. ''Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men''. This shows Iago's lying and his plan to destroy Othello throughout the play has worked and he's inclined to believe Iago instead of his wife. When Desdemona awakens, Othello tells her to pray, as she doesn't know his reason for wanting to kill her, she stands up to him and asks why. She then does not even put up a fight when he kills her. Othello reviews the evidence against Desdemona, including the visual proof of the mislaid handkerchief. She pleads that Cassio can explain what has occurred, but Othello tells her that Cassio has been slain (although Cassio has actually survived). She begs for mercy, but Othello smothers her with a pillow. Iago's wife, Emilia enters, and while she is there, Desdemona recovers enough to tell her lady-in-waiting that she is the innocent victim of her husband's jealousy. Desdemona dies and Othello tells Emilia that he has killed his wife because she committed adultery with Cassio. Emilia defends Desdemona and Othello reveals how Iago supplied him with evidence of her illicit love affair. The role of Desdemona in Othello is to show how women can be persecuted and vindicated by men. I think Shakespeare uses Desdemona to represent how the strength of women in that society is increasing, giving inspiration and advice to the Shakespearean audience. In some cases I think Desdemona is deceived but is a strong character and her depth represents her nobility. ...read more.

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