How are Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca portrayed in Othello?  

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Desdemona and Emilia are both portrayed as loyal, loving women; dutiful wives who for the most part behave the way that society expects them to. However, there is a significant difference in that Desdemona, in choosing to marry a black man, has gone against her father's wishes. This shows us that Desdemona is a woman of spirit, whereas Emilia is much more conventional.

Emilia idolizes her evil husband Iago and allows herself to be used as a pawn in his wicked games. She trusts him implicitly, and is happy to go along with whatever he asks of her. However, when the full extent of Iago's villainy is revealed, Emilia bitterly turns against him, a brave action for which she pays with her life. Desdemona, on the other hand, goes to her death at the hands of Othello —literally—with an eerily calm...

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

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Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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santeria | Student

to add to this, you could say that the women in Othello are feisty and unconventional. However in the end they are portrayed as victims of men, in Desdemona and Emilia's case, victims of Iago.

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