To What Extent Does Shakespeare Use Desdemona to Intensify the Tragedy in ‘Othello”?

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Desdemona’s role is as a vehicle for the tragic action, as Iago’s manipulation of Othello is focussed upon tricking him into believing that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful. Othello falls for false evidence presented to him, causing Othello to avenge his sense of betrayed honour and faithfulness by killing his faithful wife. This provides the climax of the tragic action and so, arguably, Desdemona serves to intensify the tragedy very strongly, as she is a victim of what is considered today to be the ultimate tragic end of domestic violence. This intensity of tragic feeling is created by her innocence, her continuing love of Othello even after his accusations and her awareness of her death. However, in Shakespearean times, the attitude to other races enhanced the tragedy of a white girl being victim to a “blackamoor”. But, by present attitudes, this tragic element has been lost, and even has become an unpleasant accusation. Also, in the death scene where Desdemona repeatedly wakes up, has been considered by some critics as lacking in tragic qualities. On the other hand, other critics have argued that her lack of development, only being there as a tragic victim, actually makes her less tragic.

After conquering Spain, Elizabeth the First allowed the Moors who helped England to win the war to live in England. But, after a few years, that decision was altered as local attitudes were growing in suspicion of the foreign Muslims who looked different from white people. There was a fear that they would corrupt white Christian girls because, as KRISTIN JOHNSEN-NESHATI states, although “Blacks were not typically associated with slavery at that time, since the slave trade would not be fully established until the late 17th century. Instead, the Elizabethan portrait of the dark-skinned “other” clearly established him as a bestial force, dangerous because of his

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