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How Does Shakespeare Present Desdemona in Acts One to Four

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Adam Lavelle 12C How Does Shakespeare Present Desdemona in Acts One to Four Throughout the first four acts, Desdemona grows as a character. As the play opens, the audience only hear of her and the suspense is built. As an audience member, she does not appear to be of such importance at the beginning, but as the play proceeds, we find out more about her and her part in the twisting storyline. Desdemona's character certainly changes through all four acts, making the audience continually question her and her true self. When Act One, scene one first opens we are introduced with two characters, Iago and Roderigo, arguing over a woman. They say that she has left her house to 'make the beast with two backs' with a character simply referred to as the moor. This simply means that they are accusing Desdemona of leaving home without her fathers consent and having sex secretly with Othello. Barbantio, Desdemona's father, first accuses Iago and Roderigo of being drunk, and refuses to believe this, as he feels his daughter would not ever be able to betray him like this. This shows the audience that Desdemona may be smothered as a woman and not allowed to make her own decisions, which would explain her leaving her house. ...read more.


There is next an important fight in the story which takes place between Cassio and Roderigo. This fight, not only excites the audience visually, but also presents many questions. One very important question is that who will Desdemona take sides with, as we already know that Roderigo is in love with her, while Cassio is slowly being tricked by Iago. . This scene is a milestone in the plot for the rest of the play, and without realising it; Desdemona has become a key character for the remaining acts. At the beginning of Act Three, Scene One, Desdemona declares her trust with Cassio 'be thou assured, good Cassio, I will do all my abilities in thy behalf'. Some people would argue that maybe Desdemona is being quite ignorant in not seeing what is happening around her and what Iago is doing, but in defence, she would have no idea what is happening and why anything would be different. Desdemona tells Cassio she is going to nag Othello until he reinstates him. This also shows how strong and unafraid Desdemona is. When Iago and Othello enter the scene, Iago immediately starts to raise the awareness of a possible affair between Desdemona and Cassio. At this point of the scene, Othello is still in love with Desdemona 'I will deny thee nothing, whereon, I do beseech thee, grant me this: to leave me but a little to my self.' ...read more.


She has been completely weakened, and asks for help from Iago, which shows the state that she is in. Scene three is often known as the willow scene. It really is a window into the past Desdemona has had, and how she has come to be the woman she is today. After the past events of the act, this scene is always bringing the audience close to tears. Understandably, Desdemona is extremely upset and depressed. This shows the extent of Othello's actions, and how he has changed the strong, un-breakable spirit of Desdemona forever. We also find out Emilia's thoughts on men, and how she perceives them. She feels that 'it is their husband's faults if wives do fall' which Desdemona simply replies by saying she will try to amend herself. All through the four acts, we see many sides of Desdemona. We start with a strong, brave woman, who stands up for what she believes what is right. Shakespeare deliberately introduces Desdemona with a dramatic, bold scene to show the audience that this is a powerful character. He also very cleverly shows the audience how her character is destroyed by the lies and treacherous actions by Iago. By the end of the four acts, she is weak, feeble and very vulnerable. Most of all, she is confused. This is also a theme that runs throughout the play, with many characters, to intertwine and join many plots together. ...read more.

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