“Othello” by Shakespeare: Heroes Analysis


It should primarily be mentioned that the Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare is a an extremely popular art creation which is well-know all over the world. Even though the tragedy was written thousands of years ago, it is still discussed and performed in theatre today. This is probably due to the fact that it does not only entertain the viewers but also shines a light on such universal topics as love, jealousy, passion, and race. The tragedy includes many characters but the ones of Othello himself and his opponent Iago seems to be the most significant ones since the whole story is based on the conflict between them. However, other essential characters should not be forgotten because they play key roles in specific situations throughout the play. For instance, Desdemona who is the wife of Othello is a crucial character in the tragedy. It is believed that her characteristics/ role change from when she is with Othello and when she is not with him, making her merely a passive victim of Othello’s tragic flow. The following research paper will agree with this statement and provide evidence that will prove the same to the readers of tragedy.


It can be stated that, at the beginning, Desdemona does not seem to be a passive as it can be claimed. Morrison, for instance, describes her as a “tender, brilliant, courageous, and generous young woman” (4). Even by her act of “choosing to offer her love to a black man,” she presents her strong character and ability to do whatever she desires (Morrison 5). During her first speech, she presents herself as an independent and brave individual who is ready to stand for herself and her marriage. She is the only female on stage, surrounded by many powerful men including her father and her husband but, despite this pressure, she is not ashamed to speak for herself and talk about her desires and actions without being ashamed (Morrison 15). However, the antagonist Iago notices and understand the character of Desdemona and; therefore, decides to use it against her. He uses her personality features in order to put her against her husband. Therefore, this can be identified as the first reason of why Desdemona is the passive victim of Othello’s tragic flaw. She is not able to resist the manipulations of Iago and loses all that independence that she had before.

Another reason of why Desdemona can be considered a passive victim in the tragedy can be seen through the way she died and the circumstances of this event. There could have been a different outcome of this scene specifically if Desdemona’s characteristics were not as passive in the end of the play. As mentioned by Dickes, “forced by the prompting of her superego, she then atoned for this incestuous choice be behaving in such a way as to make Othello even more certain in his jealousy” (296). Instead of listening to her husband’s mounting fury, the character was so blinded by the ideas of Iago and Cassio that she seemed to have forgotten about the features of her character and the desire for justice (Dickes 296). It can even be noticed that “she even developed an alteration of consciousness, a hypnoid state, and complained of being “half-asleep” when she should have been quite alarmed” (Dickes 296). Finally, when should have taken a specific action, she prepared for her death and even started punishing herself for the outcome (Dickes 296). As it can be seen, Desdemona’s death is one of the greatest indications that throughout the play she became a passive character who simply went with the flow and was even ready to die.

In addition, Desdemona also becomes a passive character throughout the play simply because she is dominated by the power of men throughout. As for all the women living in those times, every decision and every choice that she makes is generally granted by men that surround her be that her father or her husband. Desdemona chooses her words when speaking to the father because she knows that he is the authoritative one and the person who she should be obedient to. For instance, she says, “I do perceive here a divided duty… My life and education both do learn me how to respect you… as my mother show’d to you, preferring you before her father… I challenge that I may profess due to the Moor my lord” (Leggat 137). Here, he acknowledges the love and respect for her father and suggests that she holds a divided duty both to him and Othello. For this reason, it can be stated she is a powerless victim even from the start of the play, the readers just start noticing these characteristics later and realize it fully by the very end.


To summarize, the presented paper discussed Desdemona as a character whose role and characteristics change throughout the play, making her a passive victim of Othello’s tragic flaw. The paper presented three major reason that confirmed that Desdemona really became a passive person who could not stand for herself in the end like she could at the beginning. The first reason showed how powerful she was when she was not ashamed to speak in from of men and stand foe her family and love for Othello but then was manipulated and used by the main antagonist of the tragedy and changed significantly. The second reason describes her death as an indication that lost her power and desire for justice and, instead, prepared for death that she could prevent from happening. Finally, the third reason presented Desdemona as the character who was passive from the beginning but could still make her own choice. However, by the end of the play, she was so dominated by men that she could no longer withstand their power and, eventually, died. Overall, by using evidence for the academic sources, the presented research paper proved that Desdemona became a passive victim of Othello’s tragic flow.

Works Cited

Dickes, Robert. “Desdemona: An Innocent Victim?” American Imago, vol. 27, no. 3, 1970, pp. 279–297. JSTOR.

Leggatt, Alexander. Shakespeare’s tragedies: violation and identity. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Morrison, Toni. Desdemona. Oberon Books, 2012.

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