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The Relationship Between Desdemona And Othello

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Honesty is Not Always the Best Policy Shakespeare’s works are often defined by the strong female characters he writes, and Othello is not exempt from this trend. While Desdemona is portrayed as a fairly submissive and blissfully ignorant character, her counter, Emilia, is a far more cynical and knowing woman. Though classified as a minor character, Emilia is a driving force to the plot and clearly displays the hardships of what it means to be a woman in her time. Though usually fiercely loyal to her mistress, Emilia’s one falter in loyalty ultimately causes Desdemona’s demise. In deep contrast to her mistress, Emilia is a wholly cynical and jaded wife to Iago, while Desdemona is an optimistic and loving wife to Othello. Shakespeare’s use…show more content…
By constantly degrading and disrespecting her, Emilia grows to become bitter towards the idea of marriage and men in general. However, Emilia also understands her role as a wife and how she should behave as such. Though Iago appears to have little respect for her, Emilia still holds a certain amount of respect for her husband. Though she does not outright praise Iago, she also does not speak any ill-words of him until the very end of the play when his true character is revealed. She portrays him to be empathetic, such as when she and Desdemona are Cassio’s demotion and says that, “it grieves my husband/ As if the cause were his” (Shakespeare 3.3.3-4). Emilia contributes to Iago’s reputation as a good man by never denying it or disputing it. In her unwavering loyalty to not only Desdemona, but also to Iago, she drives the main conflict of the play. In her time period, Emilia must satisfy her husband’s need, whatever it may be. When Iago implores Emilia to steal away the handkerchief, an object she knows will spark conflict, she does so anyway in order to appease her husband. Emilia even confesses to not knowing her husband’s plan, saying, “What he…show more content…
As a wife during this time, Emilia is viewed as her husband’s property, and therefore should carry out his every whim. Emilia is fully aware of her duties to her husband, and remains loyal to him, but also feels an intense loyalty to her mistress and friend, Desdemona. Once these loyalties conflict, Emilia must choose between her husband and her friend. At first, Emilia is suspicious of Iago’s intentions with Desdemona’s handkerchief, asking, “What will you do with ‘t, that you have been so/ earnest/ To have me filch it?” (3.3.360-362), but inevitability resolves to give him the handkerchief in order to carry out his will and fulfill her duties as a wife. Emilia understands that Iago only uses her in order to perform such tasks, and generalizes this idea to all men, stating that, “They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;/ They eat us hungerly, and when they are full/ They belch us” (3.3.121-123). Regardless of how men behave, Emilia still continues to carry out their will as she understands her role as a woman in relation to men. However, her falter in Emilia’s loyalty to Desdemona ultimately causes her mistress’s death. Emilia, in realizing her mistake far too late, denounces her loyalty to her husband by exposing him as the villainous snake he truly is. In doing this, Emilia brings forth her own death by the hand of her horrid husband. However, Emilia redeems herself as a loyal friend