How does Shakespeare use representations of speech to shed light on Desdemona's character in Act IV, scene 3, of "Othello"?
In Othello, Desdemona plays the ever obedient and submissive wife in Act IV, scene iii. After being struck by Othello earlier, she does not rebel against her husband or ask for pity or rescue from Lodovico. She willingly dismisses Emilia, knowing she will die, because it was commanded by Othello. Overall, Desdemona's speech is resigned to death. Indeed, she is a tragic heroine who is either unwilling or powerless to defend herself. She rarely uses "I," instead referring to herself passively ("me").
She says to Lodovico:
She uses verbal irony and foreshadowing when she predicts her death, rather casually:
And, like a funeral dirge, she sings "The Willow Song," testament to her powerless language and will in this man's world:
After this, Desdemona naively asks if there are men who abuse women. It's blatant verbal irony (understatement):
Overall, Shakespeare gives Desdemona a poignant, yet helpless speeches in the scenes preceding her death. He knew that the Elizabethan world was more sexist than it was racist. Truly, Desdemona is a victim in Act IV, scene iii.