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c. 1601–1604

Desdemona Desdemona Wikipedia

"Un Capitano Moro" by Cinthio (1565)

Othello, husbandBrabantio, father

Emilia, attendant and confidante

Othello's wife and murder victimBrabantio's daughterCassio's intercessor

Sing willow, willow, willow (4.3)

Othello, In Othello, Otello, Catch My Soul

Played by
Irène Jacob, Zoe Tapper, Katia Ricciarelli, Suzanne Cloutier, Irina Skobtseva


Desdemona is a character in William Shakespeare's play Othello (c. 1601–1604). Shakespeare's Desdemona is a Venetian beauty who enrages and disappoints her father, a Venetian senator, when she elopes with Othello, a man several years her senior. When her husband is deployed to Cyprus in the service of the Republic of Venice, Desdemona accompanies him. There, her husband is manipulated by his ensign Iago into believing she is an adulteress, and, in the last act, she is murdered by her estranged spouse.


Desdemona What39s It All About Shakespeare Is Desdemona a Helpless Victim or

The role has attracted notable actresses through the centuries and has the distinction of being the role performed by Margaret Hughes, the first actress to appear on an English public stage.

Desdemona 1000 images about Desdemona on Pinterest Domestic violence

Desdemona character analysis english literature as a level

Role in Othello

Desdemona httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons00

In the play's first act, Desdemona has eloped with Othello, a Moor in the service of the Venetian Republic. Before the Duke of Venice, his councilmen, and her father, she proclaims her love for Othello and defends her choice. Her father reluctantly accepts the union, but warns Othello that she will some day deceive him. When Othello is sent to Cyprus in the line of duty, Desdemona accompanies him with his ensign's wife, Emilia attending her.

Desdemona The Shakespeare Sisterhood Gallery Desdemona from Othello

In act 2, Othello's lieutenant, Cassio is disgraced in a brawl, and falls from Othello's favour. Iago suggests to Cassio that he importune Desdemona to intercede for him, which she does. Meanwhile, Iago persuades Othello that Desdemona has formed an illicit relationship with Cassio. However many critics argue that the first seed of doubt is not issued from Iago but by Desdemona’s father

Desdemona Desdemona Othello

It is Desdemona’s assurance and confidence in the honour and strength of the love she bears for Othello, that inspires her boldness. Yet the passion of her love both arouses and unnerves her husband too, adding to the seeds of fear and suspicion.

Desdemona Othello IOP by Sylvia T on Prezi

When Emilia's husband Iago sees Desdemona's handkerchief, he appropriates it and forbids Emilia to disclose its whereabouts to Desdemona. Iago plants the article in Cassio's room. Eventually, Othello sees Cassio with the handkerchief and accepts it as confirmation of Desdemona's infidelity.

Desdemona is concerned over the loss of the handkerchief but maintains that its loss will not cause Othello to grow angry. Emilia is more cynical, especially after Othello violently asks to see it. Desdemona is confused over her husband's behaviour, which culminates in his striking her in public and calling her a whore.

Desdemona is deeply upset by her husband's attacks but continues to assert her love. In the final act, Othello tells her that he knows she has been unfaithful, and is going to kill her. Despite Desdemona's claims of innocence, Othello refuses to believe her, and when he tells her that Cassio has been killed, Desdemona cries out. Othello becomes enraged and suffocates Desdemona, ignoring her pleas for mercy. When her maid Emilia rushes into the room, Desdemona rises weakly to defend Othello, then dies.

Eventually, Othello learns of Desdemona's faithfulness after Emilia exposes Iago of his true nature before being stabbed to death by Iago, and out of complete remorse, Othello commits suicide, but only after angrily stabbing Iago (though not fatally) as retribution for his lies against Desdemona. Desdemona's cousin Lodovico then orders that Iago be tortured and executed.

Cuts in performance

Desdemona's banter with Iago and Emilia at their arrival in Cyprus (2.1.100ff) has been traditionally regarded as distasteful and cut on moral and artistic grounds, being deemed unworthy of a noble tragedy such as Othello and out of character for Desdemona. Today, however, the purpose of the passage is sometimes viewed as a depiction of Desdemona's awareness of the way of the world, and her persistence in pursuing the exchanges as a characteristic innocent overconfidence displayed elsewhere in the play (3.3.41-83, 3.4.90ff).

Performance history

On December 8, 1660, Thomas Killigrew's new King's Company acted Othello at their Vere Street theatre, with Margaret Hughes as Desdemona — possibly the first time a professional actress appeared on a public stage in England. She played Desdemona in the performance of Othello seen by Samuel Pepys on February 6, 1669.

Pepys was present for a performance of Othello at the Cockpit on October 11, 1660, noting in his diary: "a pretty lady that sat by me called out to see Desdemona smothered."

In the eighteenth century, the play was sometimes cut to heighten the tragic nobility of the protagonist. Bell's acting version, for example, omitted several moments including Desdemona's conversation with Emilia before her death—a death which is accomplished in Bells' version by stabbing rather than suffocation.

In the nineteenth century, behind-the-scenes events in the lives of the play's performers garnered for Othello a shocking and sensational reputation. Charles Kean, for example, suffered a bitter divorce in 1825, and, in 1833, collapsed following a performance of the play, dying shortly thereafter. Edwin Forrest filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery only to be found guilty himself and ordered to pay alimony. Ira Aldridge, an American black actor who appeared in the role, married a white woman. Such events cultivated the play's shocking and sensational reputation, and Tommaso Salvini's savage and sensual performance only enhanced it. In his rendition, Desdemona's death was an especially violent affair. Further cultivating the drama's reputation were the performances of Sarah Siddons, Anna Mowatt, and Ellen Terry who all played the melodramatic role of womanly innocence traduced and overwhelmed to the hilt.

In 1839, Samuel Phelps and William Charles Macready alternated in the roles of Othello and Iago at the Haymarket Theatre with Helen Faucit in the role of Desdemona. In 1881, Ellen Terry performed the role at London's Lyceum Theatre with Edwin Booth and Henry Irving alternating in the roles of Othello and Iago. The production was a great artistic and financial success.

In the twentieth century, Peggy Ashcroft played the character opposite Paul Robeson in London's Savoy Theatre in 1930, and Uta Hagen appeared in the role opposite Robeson in Margaret Webster's production at the Shubert Theatre in New York City in 1943.

In cinema, Suzanne Cloutier played Desdemona opposite Orson Welles in a version that won the Palme D'Or at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival. In a 1966 film which holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations given to a Shakespeare film, Maggie Smith played the character opposite Laurence Olivier. Smith and co-stars Olivier, Frank Finlay (Iago), and Joyce Redman (Emilia) all received acting nominations. Irène Jacob played the character in a 1995 film opposite Laurence Fishburne.

There have been numerous screen modernisations and adaptions of the play. In O (2001), Julia Stiles played a character based on Desdemona in a version of Othello set in a contemporary high school. A 2001 British made-for-television film featuring Keeley Hawes as Desdemona "Dessie" Brabant also updates the action, picturing John Othello (Eamonn Walker) and Ben Jago (Christopher Eccleston) as high ranking Metropolitan Police officers. In 2006, Omkara (2006 film), a Bollywood version of Othello, Desdemona née Dolly Mishra was played by Kareena Kapoor.


Desdemona Wikipedia

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