Considering Desdemona’s dialogue and treatment of her husband, how would you describe her affection for Othello?

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jlcannad eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Desdemona has a good deal of respect and affection for Othello, enough that she is willing to try and protect him even after his actions have left her dying.  At the very beginning, she tells the Duke that she wants to "live with" Othello and that her place is by his side, even if he goes to war.  This clearly shows that she is willing to give up the luxuries that life as a noblewoman has led her to expect.  After surviving the storm and landing in Cyprus, her first question is "What tidings can you tell me of my lord?" So rather than regretting the danger in which she has placed herself, she still values Othello more than safety or comfort.

But of course Othello turns on her later in the play.  Even though she does not understand his anger, Desdemona continues to remain faithfully in love.  When talking to Emilia, she says she is "a child to chiding" meaning that Othello only has to chide her and she would do as he said.  Considering how he has mistreated her, the fact that her affection and respect survives certainly shows a very deep love. 

The end proves that Desdemona's affections cannot be corrupted.  Even as she lay dying on the bed after Othello has strangled her, she tells Emilia that she has been murdered, but refuses to accuse her husband.  She dies with the last words, "Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!"

Her affection never wavers, even if jealousy and an overwhelming sense of self-doubt corrupt Othello