Desdemona is trapped by societal boundaries and expectations of women in the Elizabethan Era, supposedly assuming the role of a dependent, innocent and honest wife. However, despite this expectation, Desdemona is rare in that she openly voices her opinions about her circumstances, being shown as a flawed character from Act I, Scene I; eloping secretly without her father’s knowledge. Desdemona’s flaws are apparent from her first presence in Othello, clearly overthrowing her prior image of perfection and purity; when Brabantio is told of Desdemona’s deception replies with “Have you lost your wits?” in disbelief of Desdemona’s betrayal.
“I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband.” From her first moment of speech, Desdemona shows her independence, and ability to not only maintain her own values and opinions, but also voice them freely. She shows educated understanding of the movement of a woman’s possession from a father to a husband, however challenging the status quo by asserting her ability to choose whom she marries, without prior authoritative approval.
Despite not being an ‘embodiment of goodness and purity’ Desdemona is not described as an evil being without conscience or constructive action; it may also be interpreted that regardless of her flawed behavior, Desdemona acts with innocent and honest intention.
In comparison to Iago, the antagonist of the play, who acts selfishly and emotively, bordering on signs of sociopathic behavior; Desdemona looks at an overall spectrum and acts for those around her, as well as herself. This is often stated as an argument for her innocence and purity, rather it is a sign of natural human behavior, consideration and empathy for others frequently occurring, regardless of the ‘good and evil’ spectrum.
Othello’s fickle view of Desdemona allows the audience to intake her flaws and strengths, in her ability to withstand Othello’s constant changes in action and speech toward her; he shifts from being...
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