Othello’s Desdemona: A Representation of Good

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In sixteenth century literature, women rarely were given substantial roles. Often women were depicted as having great folly or the source of the main character’s downfall. Even in the twenty-first century, many critics still believe that Shakespeare’s Desdemona in Othello has no other purpose than to be a puppet in Iago’s diabolical plan. However, to draw such a conclusion would be a mistake. Shakespeare used Desdemona to personify a Christ-like figure, a representation of good in the battle of good versus evil, and an independent warrior to prove that she is a round character in Othello.
Foremost, Desdemona is a round character because she exhibits Christ-like traits. Her Madonna-like actions are most obvious in her relationships with Cassio and Emilia. With Cassio, she seeks to restore his rank as well as his friendship with Othello. Desdemona states “I would do much t’ atone them… for the love I bear for Cassio.” Her desire to reinstate Cassio’s reputation is noble and selfless- traits that Jesus epitomizes. Dr. Greg Maillet, English professor at Crandall University, relates Desdemona’s proclamation to the biblical scripture “bear ye one another’s burdens” (Maillet). Maillet’s connection reiterates Desdemona’s role as a representation of a Christ-like figure. Similarly, Desdemona uses her untainted nature to gain a loyal and loving friendship with Emilia. Ultimately, Emilia’s admiration of Desdemona influences her to speak the truth against her husband Iago. Emilia’s admission pardons her from the guilt she holds for partaking in Iago’s heinous deed. In a way, Desdemona’s influence is the source of Emilia’s salvation before her death just as Jesus did for man. However, the most prominent act that links Desdemona to a Christ-l...

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...d against evil, and a woman warrior.

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