Emilia and Desdemona in Othell

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Othello - English Essay

The contrasting characters; Desdemona and Emilia, form an interesting and important relationship in the play Othello. Desdemona is very ‘sheltered’ from the ways of the world and Emilia is very ‘down to earth’ and ‘experienced’. From this difference we see a fascinating relationship between the two of them.

In the given passage, we see that Desdemona takes a very honest, romantic and loyal stance towards Othello, (this is also true of her relationship with him), where as Emilia speaks more ‘sense’... more ‘realistically’. Desdemona is melancholy but hopeful, and her defenses of true love against Emilia’s more cynical view of the world is an interesting contrast. This is demonstrated when:

Desdemona says “Dost thou in conscience think/ That there be women do abuse their husbands in such gross kind?”
Emilia replies “ There be some such, no question”
Through this we see a form of ‘education’ going on; with Emilia as the tutor and Desdemona the student. Emilia is portrayed as Desdemona’s ‘teacher’ in the ways of the world/men.

The relationship between Desdemona and Emilia is shown to be quite close, as the following quote from the play shows, Desdemona is willing to share a part of her past with Emilia; a song that one of her mothers maids (Barbary) sang to her mother, and then her mother sang to her,

“The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all on a green willow.
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knees,
sing willow, willow, willow”

It is not common for a person to share songs from their childhood/past with people whom they are not close with, so therefore Desdemona and Emilia must be quite close (albeit that there relationship is probably based purely on Emilia’s work.)

Throughout the play, the audience’s opinion of Emilia (and...
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