Who is responsible for the death of Desdemona?
Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’ was written in the middle of his writing career - Who is responsible for the death of Desdemona? introduction. Shakespeare was well known and highly respected; he was loved by the public for the way he wrote his plays. Financially he was better off than most people and would have had an easier life.
The time in which Othello was written, was at the start of the 1600’s. The play Othello had originally come from an Italian author called Cinthio Geraldi, which was translated by a French researcher. The way, in which Shakespeare and Geraldi wrote in different styles, you could say Shakespeare ‘spiced it up’ when he changed the play. This being at the time of Elizabethan/ Jacobean England, which was a widely racist culture. A majority of Elizabethan England, prosecuted the minority of the ethnic race that was their and also disliked the moors. Often in Elizabethan/ Jacobean times they would not have black actors and instead ‘black up’ white actors. The queen Elizabeth I expressed signs of discomfort at the numbers of ‘negars and blackamoors, which are crept in to the realm’. This showing how racist everyone was for instance thee queen of the country.
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At this time of present Shakespeare had done something drastic and put a black character at the centre of his work, however Shakespeare was determined to make this work and confront the audience to how they would view a black man at the centre of the play, by doing this he would have had to make the play dramatic by adding different types of characters and going into great detail by making things spectacular.
Shakespeare knew in attempt to make this successful he had to expect certain things from his characters. The woman would have been vulnerable, sex objects and practical realist. The duke would have been superior and powerful. Othello would be honoured and proud to be a loyal general in the army. Othello offers much of these qualities, as he is a loyal servant to the duke in defending his country and leads from the front. Even though many things distract him from his main job to keep the country successful, he handles things reasonably well.
In Shakespeare’s days the characters were to behave in different ways and act accordingly to their script. This being big roles and small roles, but every character would have had an effect and impact. However, Shakespeare also inferred that the other characters also contributed to the killing of Desdemona and therefore gave them these roles to play.
Roderigo, instead of following Iago around and being a fool in believing that Iago would really get him to know Desdemona. Roderigo, if he wasn’t such a foolish and shy person he would have spoken to Desdemona himself. He would have also stood up to Iago and asked for all his money back, he also could have stayed in Venice and not followed Iago to Cyprus. He could have also acted more manly than allowing Iago to manipulate him ‘if thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why thou silly gentleman? If he were more confident and open he would have exposed Iago’s fake personality to being loyal and trust worthy.
The way in which Shakespeare forms his plays are so significant, that anybody could be to blame. Little things as The duke stopping Desdemona from accompanying Othello to Cyprus, this would have caused less controversy on Desdemona’s path and however stopped here from coming to harm ‘be it as you privately determined’, quote’s what the duke told Desdemona which left the matter in her own hands.(Act 1 scene 3, line 271)
Brabantio Desdemona’s own father abandoned her when she had picked Othello over him; he acted this way as he could not control the confused lady and left her for granted with a man which he suddenly despised. ‘Look to her, moor, if thou hast eyes to see: she has deceived her father and may thee’. Brabantio in fact should have acted more calmly and should have guarded his daughter through this.(Act 1 scene 3, lines 288 and 289)
Next Cassio, arguably the most honourable and most respectable male character in the play. However cassio should have been more open with Othello and directly asked for his job back, by following Iago’s advice this led to the death of Desdemona. ‘Confess yourself freely to her’ was Iago’s advice this showing that a lot of people trusted iago and took his advice. However iago deceived them all and aimed to come into power. (Act 2 scene 3, line 289)
The characters behave in different ways, as this was the beautiful way in which Shakespeare caused tension between characters and everything leads to the next. Shakespeare does this successfully as he does it for the audience, which love him.
Iago was a decisive character in this play and played a major role in the killing of Desdemona. Firstly Iago decides to become like this when he does not gain promotion. ‘I follow him to serve my turn upon him’ and then deliberately follows Othello only for his own purposes. (Act 1 scene 1, line 42)
He then starts all the chaos by shouting out to Desdemona’s father, but hiding so that brabantio would not be able to see him as he would get found out by Othello. Exclaiming ‘even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe’. This obviously getting brabantio annoyed and determined to punish Othello. (Act 1 scene 1 line 90)
Iago is shown to be a two faced character, a prime example to show this is on act (1 scene 2 lines 14, 15 and 16). ‘He will never divorce you or put upon you what restraint and grievance the law’. Here iago pretends to be Othello’s faithful supporter, as he knows that everything will stir up onto Othello.
Iago also deceives his so-called good friend roderigo. He keeps feeding lies to roderigo, ‘she must change for youth; when she is sated with his body she will find the error with her choice (Act 1 scene 5, line 338-340). Iago intentionally just takes the money and jewellery that roderigo gives for Desdemona. Even the person closest to him he uses; this shows that iago is cold hearted.
Iago purposely gets Cassio drunk and knew he would resort to fighting. Iago knowing this led to cassio getting sacked, he gives Othello an account of how cassio started it. ‘Cassio following him with determined sword to execute upon him’. However, Iago doesn’t blame cassio too much as he wants to sound like a friend to Cassio. (Act 2 scene 3, lines 208 and 209)
Iago tells cassio to talk to Desdemona if he wants his job back. He also tells Othello that he may be losing Desdemona to cassio. He uses cassio asking Desdemona for his job as a sexual relation between them. However it gets Othello thinking and makes him privately tell himself. ‘If she be false, o then heaven mocks itself, I’ll not believe it’. (Act 3 scene 3, line 280)
Iago finally gets to Othello, about Desdemona and cassio having an affair. After all of Iago’s evil work to persuade Othello, it finally paid off. Othello finally reasons to why Desdemona should die. ‘Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men’ (Act 5 scene 2, line 6). After killing innocent Desdemona, he finds out that iago had told him lies and knows he has done wrong. ‘When you shall these unlucky deeds relate’. Othello knows it is now too late and commits suicide by stabbing himself. (Act 5 scene 2, line 337)
The death of Desdemona you could argue was caused by many characters. As some of them played major and some played minor roles in her death. However, there were two main culprits in particular, these being Iago and Othello. As Othello made a big mistake, for believing Iago in all of what occurred. Othello could have found out things for himself instead of trusting Iago so much. Othello was the actual one who killed Desdemona. However, if it weren’t for Iago none of this would have happened. Iago deceived, manipulated and lied to many characters in the play, you could say he was the mastermind behind the operation. Not only was it the characters that caused the death of Desdemona, you could say the audience played their part in this. As they were racists they would have wanted to see the black man kill the white lady. They didn’t think much of the ethnic cultures, therefore the play wouldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for the audience and they got to see what they wanted.