Compare and contrast Desdemona and Emilia in Othello by Shakespeare.

Expert Answers info

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,167 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Emilia and Desdemona are deliberate foils to each other in this play. This is indicated by Shakespeare's language, which posits Desdemona as symbolically "fair" and Emilia as "dark," suggesting that Desdemona is naive and pure, while Emilia is more worldly. Emilia is very fond of Desdemona, beyond what we might expect of a servant, and tries to share some of her knowledge of the world with her mistress, particularly in relation to how men treat women and what this might mean for Desdemona. Desdemona is upper class, while Emilia is working class, suggesting that Desdemona has always been sheltered and is therefore less able to perceive the world as it really is.

Desdemona dismisses Emilia's suggestions that all men are alike and that they see women as "food" to be consumed, rather than as whole people, but this does, of course, foreshadow what will happen to Desdemona in the play. Desdemona rejects the idea that Othello would ever hurt or disregard her, but Emilia has been married much...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 792 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mstultz72 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write1,817 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History







check Approved by eNotes Editorial

teachertaylor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,505 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial