To What Extent Is Desdemona Presented as a Tragic Victim in Othello?

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To what extent is Desdemona presented as a tragic victim in the play ‘Othello’? Desdemona, the daughter of Venetian senator Brabantio, is captivated by Othello’s fables of bravery as a warrior and she falls in love with him. In view of the fact that Desdemona is a “fair” woman and Othello is “an old black ram”, commonly referred to as ‘the Moor’, their marriage indicates that her fate might be tragic. In ‘Othello’, Desdemona is portrayed as a courageous young woman whose character is used against her in plotting her death. The particularly unfortunate event is the irony that the very qualities of her personality that make her a good woman defeated her.

Evidently, Desdemona does not start off as a victim. She in fact had an aspect of bravery to her character demonstrated in pointing out to her father that she does “perceive here a divided duty”. As the daughter of a Venetian senator, Desdemona was daring enough to make decisions against her father’s decrees and take control of her life as a young woman reminding him, “I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband”, so as much duty to him he once expected from her mother so shall she grant her husband. Her response to her father is full of brave gracefulness and this demonstrates a heroic face to her character. The society in ‘Othello’ was overwhelmed with hatred for interracial marriages and prejudice for the inferior social class. Racist abuse is demonstrated in Iago’s dialogue with Roderigo early in the play where Othello is referred to as “an abuser of the world” who “practiced on her with foul charms” regarding his race and sexual relationship with her. Desdemona’s choice to marry him despite the views of Venice at the time complements her bravery and not only does she dishonour her father, she also shows contempt for the culture and attitudes towards sex, gender and race.

Brabantio objects to the relationship demanding from Desdemona, “where most you owe obedience?” who gives a diplomatic response...
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