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How in William Shakespeare's Othello, can we view Desdemona's overstepping her place in...

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lexilee | Honors

Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:51 PM via web

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How in William Shakespeare's Othello, can we view Desdemona's overstepping her place in society as contributing to the tragic ending?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:16 AM (Answer #1)

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In William Shakespeare's Othello, it is possible to argue that Desdemona's overstepping her place in society contributes to the tragic ending from two points of view. First, as argued by Tillyard, inter alia, the notion of place was very important in Renaissance ideology and any breaking of the natural order contributes to weakening the overall system of providence. Thus we can view, sub specie aeternitatis, Desdemona's death as in a sense a restoration of the order that was broken by her violation of her father's authority and marriage to the Moor.

Increasingly, critics see Desdemona from a feminist point of view, as a strong independent woman who asserts her independence both in her marriage and her attempt to reconcile Cassio and Othello, i.e. by serving as an intelligent partner to Othello's career rather than a mere subordinate. Her death can be seen as a sort of triumph or restoration of patriarchy, as seen in the lines

"Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men" (V.ii.6)

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