Shakespeare's Othello - Pitied Desdemona Essay

1950 Words 8 Pages
Othello and Pitied Desdemona

William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello sees the destruction of two very beautiful people because of a sinister intervention by a third. The most beautiful of all is the lovely and irreproachable Desdemona. Let us in this essay consider her character.

In her book, Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies, Maynard Mack comments on the heroine’s final song:

Desdemona, preparing for bed on the night that will be her last, remembers her mother’s maid “called Barbary”:

She was in love, and he she loved proved mad

And did forsake her. She had a song of “Willow;”

An old thing ‘twas; but it expressed her fortune,

And she died singing it.
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The proceedings which take place before the Duke of Venice cause the father to permanently lose his daughter, mostly due to Desdemona’s own fluent presentation of her point of view in the city council chamber. This results in Brabantio’s virtual disowning of her and not allowing her to live in his house while Othello’s campaign against the Turks in Cyprus is in progress. Thus it would seem that Desdemona has been living her life with a father who is primarily interested in self and less in daughter.

Entrusted to the ancient’s care and that of his Emilia, Desdemona arrives at the seaport of Cyprus. Blanche Coles in Shakespeare’s Four Giants interprets the protagonist’s very meaningful four-word greeting to Desdemona which he utters upon disembarking in Cyprus:

Othello’s four words, “O, my soul’s joy,” tell us that this beautiful Venetian girl has brought great joy, felicity, bliss to the very depths of his soul. This exquisitely beautiful love that has come to a thoughtful, earnest man is indescribably impressive. For him it is heaven on earth. (87)

While waiting there for Othello’s ship, she grows tired of Iago’s derogatory comments directed at his wife, and she quite matter-of-factly states her mind: “O, fie upon thee, slanderer!” and even directs Iago’s focus off of Emilia and onto her self: “What wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst praise me?” Strong and determined, she continues to critique the ancient’s

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