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Desdemona - Tragic Character in Othello

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One of the most tragic characters in Othello is Desdemona. This is not because of something she does but the way the other characters develop to act to her.

In the beginning of the play we cannot hear enough good things about her. In fact, her father says that she is a “maid so tender, fair, and happy” (Brabantio, I.ii.85). Her father seems to think that the possibility of her running away with Othello is preposterous, so he must think that she’s quite the Daddy’s girl. In the following scene, we found out that Desdemona did, in fact, run away with each other to get married. When he is called to war, Othello even thinks that Desdemona is a strong enough woman to come support him in Cyprus instead of staying in Venice.

Desdemona continues to be hailed in Cyprus. She is greeted by the recently appointed lieutenant Cassio. As she’s getting off the ship her ship, he tells all the soldiers to get on their knees as he calls he “the riches of the ship” (II.i.92) and “the grace of heaven” (II.i.94). Even at war, she is still viewed as an important lady of virtue that should be respected.

By the end of play though, this is no longer the case. While Desdemona has not change, the circumstance surrounding her have. She is still the caring maiden we are introduced to but the characters around her, namely Othello view her differently. Othello really takes to what Iago has been telling him and allows himself to be convinced that Desdemona has been cheating on him with Cassio. In Act IV, Othello strikes Desdemona with his hand, in front of the others. She has no idea what she has done to anger Othello so much to provoke him like this. She tells him that she “did not deserve this” (IV.i-269) but that she will leave if that’s what he wants of her. Meanwhile, Othello begins his plan to murder her. Desdemona can’t even think of committing an act such as cheating on her husband and asks her companion Emaila if she would “do such a deed for all the world” (IV.iii.71).

When Othello goes to kill Desdemona, she wakes and he again calls her out for cheating on him and calls her a strumpet. When Emilia come sin to see what was going on, Othello claims that his wife was “like a liar gone to burning hell” (V.ii.159) and that “she turned folly , and she was a whore.” (V.ii.162). Even in death, Othello continues to speak of his negative perception of Desdemona. The saddest part about her death is that her dying words are, when asked you did the of murdering her, “Nobody. I myself. Farewell.” (V.ii.152). She can’t bring herself to blame her husband for killing her. She evn continues to see the good in him despite the awful things that he has been saying to her and the abuse she has put up from him. She thinks that if he is treating her this way, it must be her fault and she must have done something to provoke him, even though she did nothing. Iago was able to successfully use her pure trait of helping



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