Desdemona's goodness furthermore is not simply passive or weak but an act of will. Her refusal to blame Othello for his terrible treatment of her, when he suspects her of betrayal, must not be viewed as simple subservience but as a self-willed refusal to accept a bad opinion of the husband she has chosen. When he is behaving deplorably towards her she refuses to acknowledge his identity - 'My lord is not my lord,' she says 'nor should I know him / Were he in favour as in humour altered'. She stands by her acceptance of her love for him as something sacred, with a martyr-like determination: she tells Emilia 'his unkindness may defeat my life, / But never taint my love.' She thus obeys her own heart rather than patriarchal rules, extending this determination through to death, so that with her last breath - when Emilia asks 'who hath done this deed?' she can reply 'Nobody, I myself'. Othello's conviction that even upon dying she lies by claiming this self-death bears witness to the whole tragedy of the play, Othello's inability to see beneath the surface of stereotypical conceptions of femininity. By claiming this death for herself she re-affirms her self-hood. Metaphorically then she dies for her love which cannot be tainted, not from Othello's hands. In Hamlet too, Ophelia's death can perhaps be seen as an act of assertion and escape from the confining patriarchal world.
Emilia is the lone character who garners the knowledge to all circumstances of the events surrounding the characters in Othello the Moor. Although other characters in the play are privy to certain details of the unfolding events, Emilia is the character that uses this knowledge to the benefit of the play. Emilia's character is minor yet necessary. Without her character the play would have no means of unraveling the c...
Trust in othello essay, Term paper Academic Service
In the later tragedy, Othello, it can also be argued that the tragedy occurs from adherence to patriarchal rules and stereotypes. Gayle Greene summarises this position in her claim that the tragedy of Othello stems from 'men's misunderstandings of women and women's inability to protect themselves from society's conception of them'. Certainly Desdemona's very much feminised qualities of passivity, softness and obedience are no match for Othello's masculine qualities of dominance, aggression and authority. After Othello in his jealousy has struck Desdemona and spoken harshly to her, she tells Iago, 'I am a child to chiding'. Protected by a system which makes women the weaker, dependent sex, Desdemona is unequipped to deal with such aggression; she is helpless against Othello. As Dreher puts it 'following conventional patterns of behaviour for wives and daughters, these women lose their autonomy and intimacy and do not achieve adulthood'. Desdemona thus retreats into childlike behaviour to escape from reality.