Character Analysis Desdemona


Desdemona is a lady of spirit and intelligence. For all the claims of military straightforwardness of some other characters, Desdemona is the most direct and honest speaker in the play. Her speeches are not as lengthy as those of the men, but with Desdemona, every word counts.

For Desdemona, Othello is the hero of many exciting and dangerous adventures, who also has the appeal of the orphan child who needs love. Add to this the fact that he is now an honored and powerful man in her country, and what young noble woman would not find him attractive? As the Duke says, "I think this tale would win my daughter too" (I.3, 171).

In Cyprus, in charge of her own household, Desdemona continues to fulfil her duties, receiving petitioners as the commander's wife and being hostess at official receptions. Her marriage has brought her position and happiness, so much so that she finds it unbearable to think that her husband has turned against her. This numbness lasts until she sees that he actually intends to kill her; then she puts up a brave and spirited defense, insisting on her innocence. In despair at losing his love, she still defends him from the consequences of his actions, but he is past seeing what is clear to her and to Shakespeare's audience: that she has committed herself wholly to loving him; without his love, she cannot live.