Desdemona—Desdemona is a woman who wants what she wants and will circumvent convention in order to get it. Not that there is anything wrong in her wanting what she wants: She marries Othello because he is clearly a real man—unlike the other suitors (like Roderigo) who haunt her father’s house. She is the one who instigates the courtship, urging Othello to woo her. She is the one who sneaks out at night to elope with Othello, in spite of the offense it might give to her father (it does indeed break his heart and bring about his death). She is the one who suggests that she be allowed to accompany the men into battle, in spite of conventions of the time (an unusual suggestion for a Renaissance woman to make). She is the one who insists that Othello forgive Cassio, who stands up to Othello when others quail.

Yet there is a softer side to Desdemona, a side that is composed of virtuous, submissive and humble parts. She does indeed love Othello and assert that she would never do anything to ruin his name (such as act in the manner he accuses her of acting). She refuses to blame him for her death, even though it is he who smothers her. She seems to offer up her life as a kind of sacrifice to love, using her marriage bed as the altar, her sheets as the linens, herself as the guiltless victim. All the while, her willful impulse remains within her and she pleads with Othello for another night of life, an hour, a minute more—yet, it is plaintive in tone and not commanding. Thus, it might be suggested that Desdemona does indeed grow as a character, approaching holiness more closely than any other in the play.

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Essays About Othello