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What does Act 2 add to our understanding of Desdemona

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What does Act 2 add to our understanding of Desdemona? The play "Othello" written by William Shakespeare is a tragedy in which appearance and reality are juxtaposed with jealously, hate, honesty and innocence. The character of Desdemona is one of the most admirable, and yet most pitiful, in all of Shakespeare. She is completely innocent, unable to comprehend how her husband can be jealous when "I never gave him cause!". The other women in the play are cynical Emila and Cassio's mistress, Bianca: contrasted with these two, Desdemona stands as an icon of female purity. Desdemona is altogether more simply drawn, She embodies the principle of 'good' in the play. Act two gives the audience a more indepth understanding of Desdemona by her actions and responses and they way she is described by other characters. She is perceived as a Venetian woman, with its contemporary connotations of sexual lasciviousness, which Iago exploits, and as a whore. More positively, but equally stereotypically, she is perceived as 'divine' by Cassio. There is this ironic gap between how Desdemona speaks and behaves and how she is perceived. Act two is a complete change of scene from Venice to Cyprus; far from the safety and stability of Venice, Iago plans to carry out his devilish plan of revenge. ...read more.


For Cassio she remains 'a most exquisite lady', 'a most fresh and delicate creature' whose specch is the model of 'perfection'. But to one already corrupted , these claims have no force, and hence she is made to seem na�ve in her subsequent pleading for Cassio. There is a sense in which all 'good' in the play seems na�ve in the face of Iago's cynical and reductive outlook. Desdemona's openness is made to seem tactless, and in a curious way, childish, in a situation in which it is a quality no longer to be valued. The playful argument with Iago about the position of women, Desdemona seems to be flirtasous yet firm woman. As Iago discriminates women and think they should "go to bed to work", Desdemona at first gives short and simple lines like "O, fie upon thee, slander" and a comment as "Alas! She has no speech." This compliments her image of innocence, she is shocked and as a younger lady doesn't dare to argue back with Iago. Instead Desdemona plays around with Iago and wants to know what he thinks of her; "what wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst praise me?" Is Desdemona not thinking of Othello's safety at this point? Her playful puns; "how if she be black and witty?" ...read more.


Iago then plays with Cassio about his relationship with Desdemona and makes comments which are abravise and rude. Cassio still speaks highly of Desdemona; "she's a most exquisite lady" and "Indeed she's a most fresh and delicate creature" Iago persistently tries to makes Cassio think sexual thoughts of Desmona; "And when she speaks is it not an alarum to love?" Cassio rejects the sexual thoughts and the mater is closed. After the fight between Roderigo and Cassio, the place is in choas and Desdemona is awakend, this is what Othello is most angry about "Look if my gentle love be not raised up! I'll make thee an example" Only because Desdemona has been awaken he will do harm. Desdemona is shown in many different ways in this scene; Iago's many faces has different opinions of Desdemona; one of sexual desire, one of hate, one of friendlyness. Othello is deeply in love with her and sees nothing but joy and innocence. Cassio only sees goodness and compliments her in every possible way. Desdemona herself is a young woman but brave, strong and witty; her presence in Cyprus and leaving her father and marrying in secret all show her brave and less innocent side. She is madly on love with Othello and would do anything to please him. Overall our understanging of Desdemona is increased and we picture her in a different light from Act 1, where she was just a young innocent lady. ...read more.

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