ENG3U Topic 5
5 November 2013
Everyone has committed some mistake in the past that they have been resentful about later and it proved to be a major problem later on. Such circumstances have been faced by everyone and either they learn from their previous mistake to never repeat it again or they never get a second chance. Being granted a chance or redemption depends upon the out come. But to be oblivious the chances being granted and to keep repeating the mistake eventually leads to downfall and sometimes death as well. Such a character was explored by William Shakespeare in the play Othello, Desdemona who was a young and beautiful wife of a black general, Othello. In the play Othello, Desdemona fell deeply in love with Othello. She was extremely loyal and faithful to the heretical general. Desdemona died at the end of the play as a result of many mistakes she made upon handling her relationship with Othello. She lost the hanker chief that Othello had given to her as a token of love, affection and trust. But the truth was Iago had his wife steal it for him and planted it in Cassio’s room so he could persuade Othello that Desdemona was unfaithful to him with Cassio and the hanker chief was a proof of her disloyalty. Arguably, the first mistake that she ever made was insisting Othello to reinstate Cassio as his lieutenant. After the devised downfall of Cassio, Desdemona dedicated herself to speak on Cassio's behalf to reinstate him. It was not a mistake at first, but when Othello was persuaded by Iago's slander and questioned her about the disappearance of the handkerchief, she should have stopped her attempt on reinstating Cassio and thought about her own situation. She simply
concluded that Othello's questioning of the handkerchief was a trick to stop her from her petition by saying, "This is a trick to put me from my suit./ Pray you, let Cassio be received again." (3.4.101-102). What she should have done was to solve the misapprehension between her and Othello that was built by Iago instead of presenting her petition blindly by saying "I pray, talk me of Cassio" and then turning Othello away through "(I' faith,) you are to blame" (3.4.114). Shortly after Othello walked out, Desdemona queried if the reason why Othello had behaved in this manner was some bad news from Venice. "Something, sure, of state, / Either from Venice, or some unhatched practice/ Made demonstrable here in Cyprus to him," (3.4.161-163). She did not think about other possible reasons why Othello was angry because she believed that the bond she and Othello had could not be broken or weakened by any force present. She was a young hopeless romantic who chose to be naive and held his work accountable for his anger. Not wondering why would Othello give such emphasise on the hanker chief exactly at the moment she lost it. If she would not have overestimated their love and thought about the insecurities that Othello might be facing, she would have found a way to set things right and eventually would not have died at the hands of her lover.
Even though Desdemona is naive, she does not deserve the sufferings she experienced. She is abused verbally and physically by Othello and then finally smothered to death. After continuous poisoning of Othello's mind by Iago that Desdemona is unfaithful to him, Othello starts to get repulsed by the very sight of Desdemona and not only detests her by his speech but also strikes her in public and even at this point Desdemona does not stand up to protest that her treatment by Othello is not deserved. If she would have stood up for herself at this point and cleared all misconceptions that had been inculcated by Iago till this point Othello would not have
resorted to killing her. Her failure to speak up to Othello when he abused her caused her eventual death by him.
Desdemona also lacked the wisdom to see what grave danger she was in. She starts spending more time with Cassio, unaware that Othello will become jealous. Her failure to see soon enough that Othello thought she was cheating on him led Othello to kill her. If she would have realized this earlier then she could have explained to him what the situation was and that all what Iago had told him was a complete lie and his jealousy was pointless and uncalled for. Othello might have believed the truth while he was not yet blinded by jealousy and hate. Later on, when Desdemona wakes up to find Othello by her bed, he practically tells her that he plans to kill her but all she says is, “if you say (so,) i hope you will not kill me” (5.2.43). She could have escaped Othello if she was smart enough to figure out she was going to die and leave when she could but she chose to stay and hoped that the man she loved would bring no harm to her although he clearly meant to do so. Despite being given every kind of evidence that Othello was going to kill her she chose to do the non logical thing and stayed. Shakespeare conveyed a message to the readers that doing things against logic leads to your destruction. Choosing to act oblivious to the fact that Othello was going to kill her and her life was in danger led to her inevitable death at this point.
The character of Desdemona clearly showed that making mistakes because of an ignorant attitude towards facts eventually leads to your destruction. One should always think rationally and at all perspectives of a situation logically and without emotions clouding your judgement. (953 words)