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William Shakespeare


“Desdemona and Emilia are weak characters who fail to gain our sympathy.”

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view of Desdemona and Emilia? Support your answer with reference to the play, Othello.

In reference to William Shakespeare’s play Othello, I do not believe that either of the characters Desdemona or Emilia are weak or fail to gain our sympathy as an audience.

Desdemona is a defensive and self-possessed character. She defends her marriage to Othello to all who wish to diminish it. She even bawdily jests with Iago and treats him as an equal, something not expected of a woman in this time period. In her first speech of the play (Act 1, Scene 3) Desdemona speaks with both conviction and authority when she addresses her father by saying, ‘My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty’. She is also outwardly insulted and infuriated by Othello after he strikes her in Act 3 Scene 2 stating, ‘I have not deserved this.’ In the following scene she also attempts to get Othello to forgive Cassio by being resourceful with language and action. She employs a chiding, almost mischievous wit to encourage what she thinks is for the best. Desdemona chose to marry Othello in spite of the social stigma and her own fathers anticipated disapproval. By standing up for and taking responsibility for her decision she is in fact the opposite of weak and is argua...

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