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In Shakespearean times, women were often stereotyped in one of three ways: as virtuous goddesses; as shrews; or as whores. No stereotype is ever entirely true, because human beings cannot be categorized in this manner. People are always more complex than a stereotype. Desdemona, at the start of the play when she was happy and fulfilled, displayed signs of all three qualities though she remained a virtuous woman. For instance, she shows that she can insist on having her own way (when she persuaded Othello to take her along with him on his mission) like a shrew; and when she woos Othello and persuades him to elope with he; and later flirts harmlessly with Cassio, she acts in a manner that can be distorted by a man like Iago, to seem whorish. The fact that she can be complex and yet essentially virtuous, makes her a whole woman. Later, as Othello begins to doubt her and treat her badly, she reverts to type and becomes submissive and one-dimensional. In other words, she becomes a stereotypical goddess. Thus her unconditional love for Othello diminishes her as a person and she becomes less admirable and a shadow of her former self.
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