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While the tragic death of Othello surpasses Desdemona’s in literary importance, Desdemona becomes more tragic a character than her estranged husband. She has done nothing to earn the contempt of her husband, whose murderous intent and eventual suicide serve as the only means of self-validation. She has become an object in Othello’s “self-sacrifice”, nothing more than another factor in Shakespearean tragedy. In his portrayal of Desdemona, Shakespeare may have been able to present a feminist case for the station of women in society and their abuses at the hands of men. But Othello is not made the villain: Iago is the person portrayed as destroying a life, not in Desdemona’s passing but in Othello’s fall from grace. Desdemona, though a possible case for the argument of feminist characters in Elizabethan theatre, is ultimately too passive to be a feasible feminist. Had she asserted herself and called Othello’s insecurity, her husband’s pride may have been compromised, but it would serve as a means for him to identify the primary culprits at hand. That Desdemona confronted her father and not her own husband plays the feminist argument into doubt; marriage, not self-sufficiency, was Desdemona’s final goal. She sought neither to validate herself nor her sense of self-worth, but rather chose a life of devotion to the Moor she loved. In essence, she presented herself as a victim from the very beginning.


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