Desdemona Character Analysis

Subject: 📚 Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 843
Topics: Othello, 📗 Book, 🧔 William Shakespeare
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The widespread criticism of Desdemona’s character in Othello is that she represents an inactive figure, noble but lacking in true depth and determination, and therefore the tragedy is incomplete because of this flaw. Such criticism is not justified because Desdemona, on the contrary, embodies the portrayal of a woman who goes against the cultural demands of society and instead decides to pursue her own beliefs, which chiefly relate to her love for her husband Othello, showing that she is a deep and strong woman. This essay analyzes the character of Desdemona and follows many aspects of her behavior over the course of the play.

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Desdemona is a supporting character in the play

The primary problem that critics may encounter with Desdemona arises from a lack of attention to her factual role in the play itself, setting irrational expectations for her as a secondary character. Desdemona is not the central element of the play, and thus her image must be sufficiently passive to enhance the unfolding of the key plot of Othello’s tragic fall. Therefore, the depiction of Desdemona as a genuine strong-willed and decisive woman should still be in the background, which may seem passive to the inattentive viewer. This passivity, though indeed obvious, refers to Desdemona’s contribution to the story, not to her personality as such. As for her nature, she is powerful by heart and demonstrates these traits when the plot allows.

Desdemona’s strength through her determination and loyalty

The inactivity that critics attribute to Desdemona is not genuinely inactivity, but the solution to follow Othello, which periodically appears as a kind of inaction. If she had acted on her own, it would have been to alienate herself from her husband because of his concerns, which would have been a less honorable act than confiding in him, despite the implications. In addition, Desdemona’s obvious inactivity in the story is due to her innocent side, which constantly expects the best from her husband, despite his often questionable behavior. In the dialogue with Emilia, it is hard for her to realize that any woman can betray her husband. She has enough emotional intelligence skills to recognize that something is going wrong, as she does with Othello. The woman’s perception of the situation merely does not include the man’s reflection that he doubts her faithfulness. The vulnerability of Othello’s character is manifested in jealousy and distrust, while the strength of Desdemona’s character consists in her certainty in her marriage and steadfastness of personality.

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Desdemona indeed displays a strong personality, and she confidently goes towards her purpose at the beginning of the play. She gets to marry Othello, of her own free will, against the Venetian suitors that her family expects her to marry. Furthermore, the power to view Othello for whom he really is, rather than concentrating on the negative image he has because he is a moor, reveals the depth of Desdemona’s personality. Desdemona makes the right choice to be faithful to her husband even more than to her father. Her loyalty appears to have no limits as she even decides to go to war with Othello, which is completely unprecedented for that time in history. This steadfast determination to stand by her husband through the hardships of war defies the prevailing cultural conventions that pervaded Venice at the time. However, Desdemona, typically, does not care about the aspirations of society in this stage, even if it is about war, something considered to be an exclusively male activity. She cares about her marriage to Othello, not about her own personal image.

A deep and loving woman

Desdemona is widely misunderstood for admitting Othello’s faults, but in fact, this criticism is a misconceived concept that really concerns her deep and absolute love for Othello. Her love for Othello is so brilliant that even after she is practically killed by him, she still does not believe in his cruel intentions. This testifies to the extraordinary strength of the personality, as the woman even in such circumstances chooses Othello above herself. She is ironically contrasted with Othello in this decision of trust during the play, when he takes the reckless choice to trust Iago’s words over his wife’s. Therefore, Desdemona, far from passively reacting to the problems that confront her, confidently takes the more complex path, eventually sacrificing herself to be faithful to her husband.


In conclusion, we can summarize that Desdemona is a forceful and honorable character through her various actions and statements over the course of the play, with several factors to bear in mind. The inactivity we notice is more correctly perceived as a firm determination to trust her husband regardless of the circumstances. The woman shows primary devotion to Othello, her husband, not her father. Being more worried about Othello than expectations, she proactively resolves to go to war with him. Lastly, she expresses absolute love for her husband by willing to confide in him to the very end. These actions demonstrate Desdemona as a person who is genuinely strong-willed and actively decides to love her husband, despite the implications.

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