Character of Desdemona in Othello

The Female Protagonist

The female protagonist in the tragic play “Othello”, Desdemona is truly one rare character who astonishes the readers as much with her outer beauty as with her inner grace.

Desdemona, of a Venetian origin, is the daughter of Brabantio (a senator) who elopes to marry a Moorish Army General, Othello. 

Desdemona is the purest and simplest human being who sees the world as a place incapable of the evil of which she later becomes a victim of herself.

She is considered the fairest but she chooses Othello who is prejudiced by the likes of Iago and Roderigo for both personal and cultural reason. For her, it marks Othello’s diligence and heroism.

Her Faith in Love

Desdemona’s strength lies in her faith in love with does not shake with the opinion of the society and does not fade away with minor ruptures in her marriage.

She stands by her decisions and knows her duties. In any given situation, for her, “even his (Othello’s) stubbornness, his cheeks and frowns have grace and favour in them.”

When she is accused of being infidel, her shock comes from coming close to the possibility of such an act that a grievous sin like betrayal can exist.

Even before Iago planted the doubt in Othello’s mind, it is her father who says, “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She hath deceived her father and may thee.

The Unfortunate

From the beginning of sensing a change in Othello’s love towards her, she shows no hint of caution or self-regard. ‘Desdemona’ which means unfortunate becomes an apt symbol for herself. It is her naivety that becomes her tragic flaw.

She is virtuous and simple to an extent that it leads her to a catastrophic fate as she seems too innocent to be true. When Othello calls her sinful, she cannot deal with it reasonably as someone who could expect it.

She doesn’t defend herself but tells the truth in a simple manner. In such a time of bewilderment, she hopes to regain love with truth. It is hard for her to realise that love can be threatened with any weakness and her own loyalty could not bind her marriage. She blames herself after being strangled by Othello to death. 

Vulnerability of Being Saint-like

The character of Desdemona is true and modest. Good is all that she knows. When they arrive in Cyprus, the men who work under Othello speak of her with the utmost admiration. With her character, Shakespeare reminds us of the vulnerability of being saint-like, of being unaware of the filth the world caries within itself.

She may be wise in her faith but not worldly-wise. Her belief lies in unbreakable, strong relationships, whether it is her own marriage or it is the friendship between Othello and Cassio.

She believes that “His unkindness may defeat my life but never taint my love.” She pleads her husband on behalf of Cassio to save the true bond of companionship.

Desdemona’s simplicity fails to sit into the world of potent wickedness and she is punished for being voiceless when it comes to saying anything immoral.