Does Shakespeare Present Desdemona As Tragic?

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To what extent is Desdemona presented as a tragic figure in Act 4 Scene 3 and Act 5 Scene 2? How could an audience react to her death? On the one hand, Desdemona is presented as a strong female character; publically defying her father by marrying Othello, arguing with Iago regarding the role of women and breaking free of the gender expectations of a woman in the 16th century by denying her privileged but sheltered life to marry a black man of her own choosing, a hugely rebellious act at a time when women were seen as lesser and were expected to obey their fathers and then husbands unconditionally. However, on the other hand she is portrayed as naive, and full of doubts and fears. She does not stand up to Othello when it really matters, and accepts her own death far too easily, even to go as far as selecting the bed sheets she is to be murdered on. Dreher, in her essay ‘Domination and Defience; Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare’ states that she is ‘'following conventional patterns of behaviour for wives and daughters, these women lose their autonomy and intimacy and do not achieve adulthood ’, meaning that Desdemona retreats into a state of childlike dependency when upset as a way of avoiding reality. According to Aristotle, a ‘tragic figure’ is defined as a character of noble stature, who embodies virtue as part of their innate character. They do have some vices, which allow the audience to relate to them, and have some kind of ‘hamartia’ or tragic flaw, however their misfortune is undeserved, and their punishment far outweighs this flaw. Their end must evoke feelings of pity and fear within the audience, and their death must be a sacrifice of some kind for a greater purpose. This description is very fitting of Desdemona, who, being daughter of the Senator is already of noble birth. Likewise, she possesses true virtue in that she is ever the optimist,
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