We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Desdemona?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Desdemona is a female heroine in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. She is the daughter of Senator Brabantio of Venice, and defies her father by secretly marrying Othello, a soldier of Moorish ancestry. Scholars are divided as to the merits and true personality of the character. Some experts believe that she is the ultimate personification of a traditional woman, ruled by her heart and loyal to her husband even as he murders her. A contradictory interpretation is that the character is a woman far ahead of her time who believes herself to be Othello’s total equal, and her death is a result of a society unprepared for a feminist point of view.

In the play, Desdemona shocks her father and Venetian society by secretly marrying Othello. Despite Othello’s abilities as a soldier and the near-universal admiration he enjoys, he is the object of racial prejudice and not considered a fit husband for the daughter of a senator. Othello and his wife convince the Venetian senate to accept their marriage and move to the island of Cyprus, where Othello leads a war against the invading Turkish army.

Once on Cyprus, Iago, a discontented soldier and accomplished schemer, convinces Othello that Desdemona is carrying on an affair with Othello’s closest friend, Cassio. Othello smothers her with a pillow, but in explaining the situation, is informed by Emilia, Iago’s wife, that his wife was faithful and Iago is to blame. Iago kills Emilia for betraying him and is captured while trying to escape. Othello stabs himself and dies.

The controversy over Desdemona’s character concerns her inability to believe that Othello would ever do her harm. Traditional interpretation suggests that this was the role of a proper wife, and in Shakespeare’s time adultery in a wife was punishable by death. In this view, the character conforms to the era’s socially acceptable picture of a woman, and her death is looked on as a tragic death of an innocent caused by Iago’s thirst for power and revenge.

Other scholars are not convinced by this argument, pointing out several flaws. First, a proper woman would never marry without her father’s permission, as Desdemona clearly does. Second, Othello describe their courtship as growing from her passion to listening to his heroic and bloody stories of battle, hardly appropriate topics for a high-born lady. She is also eager to go to Cyprus, the very center of a war, rather than remain safely behind in Venice and wait for her husband’s return.

This interpretation suggests that the character, as a woman hungry for passion, battle, and war, is aware of her position as a misfit to traditional society. The theory implies that Desdemona and Othello’s attraction is a result of their similar status as true outsiders, she as a liberated woman, and he as a refined and powerful Moor in a racist country. Her belief in their marriage and equality is something she stakes her life on, and unfortunately she misjudges her husband.

Desdemona’s most famous scene consists of a discussion about marriage with Emilia. In this conversation, Emilia insists that infidelity is acceptable if you are mistreated by your husband. Desdemona, however, claims that being treated badly is not an excuse to act badly, and moreover inspires worse outcomes.

This scene is used in support of both arguments regarding her character, either as an example of her inherent purity or a mission statement for her wise and stubborn principles. Regardless of the interpretation, Desdemona presents a central argument of the play by asking whether it is better to admit mistakes and learn to do better, or to ignore them and seek revenge to protect the ego.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Language & Humanities. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.