Othello Desdemona Character Analysis

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The women of Othello show occasional glimmers of grit. These glimmers are few and far between, however, as Desdemona and Emilia are largely passive and subject to the whims of the male characters. Indeed, as Desdemona becomes more passive, Emilia becomes more assertive, almost as if the play cannot accommodate more than one rounded female character at a time. As the play progresses, Desdemona transforms from an assertive woman to a passive victim. In the beginning of the play, Desdemona is independent and not afraid of the men in her life. After Othello tells the story of how he and Desdemona fell in love to the Venetian Senate, Desdemona asserts to Brabantio: “My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty… I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband” (I.iii.208-214). Desdemona has the bravery to stand up to her father to say that she is not only his daughter anymore, but someone …show more content…

At the beginning of the play, Shakespeare introduces Emilia as a push over; a mere appendage to her husband, Iago, and his needs. Upon finding Othello’s handkerchief, she immediately seeks out to give it to Iago, though “[w]hat he will do with it/ Heaven knows,” all she wants is “[n]othing but to please his fantasy” (III.iii.341-343). Here, Emilia is simply a supplement to Iago and his schemes. Her actions are motivated not by her own interests, but rather by her wish to please her husband. In the language she uses alone, her actions become someone else's possession-- it is about what “he will do” and “his fantasy”-- rather than remaining hers to control. However, Emilia later begins to progress into an autonomous, free-thinking woman. The turning point in her character development is self-evident when, speaking with Desdemona, she exploits an iniquitous dynamic of gender

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