Ophelia and Desdemona play the role of the "innocent lady" in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Othello. The roles of these characters provide a sense of completeness, faithfulness, and obedience to the leading male figures. In both plays, these innocent ladies end up dying. These deaths are both due to a false rejection of love. Othello kills Desdemona because he believes her love is false, and Ophelia dies ultimately because she reads Hamlet's mask of madness as rejection. These deaths exemplify the pattern of harmony turning to chaos in both of these plays, and provide proof of the decay that is spreading to everyone in Venice and Denmark.
In Hamlet, Ophelia is unaware of the evil is spreading around her. She is an obedient woman, and is
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Much like the death of Ophelia, Desdemona's death in Othello is also rooted from madness and misunderstanding. Desdemona plays the role of the obedient and faithful wife of the beloved Othello. She is unaware of foulness that is spreading around her. Desdemona is brutally murdered from suffocation by Othello. Because Othello believes that he has been deceived and that Desdemona's love has been false, Othello goes completely mad and kills that which he loves most. " Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne/ To tyrannous hate!" (III.iii.448-449). The rejection of love from Desdemona is what causes Othello's insanity and eventually leads to death, much like Ophelia's insanity leads to her own death.
Desdemona continues to be the "innocent lady" throughout the entire play. She never once strays from her duties to Othello.
But here's my husband;
And so much duty as my mother showed
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.
However, insanity and madness is what rip these two apart. It is Othello who believes that Desdemona has strayed from her traditional role. When Othello believes that his lady is no longer innocent, the only way for him to deal with the situation is to cut her out of his life. Desdemona provides the completeness and accord in Othello's life in her role as an "innocent lady."