In Othello, what does the conversation between Emilia and Desdemona tell us about the nature of each?

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kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Desdemona's and Emilia's conversations about Othello are indicative of the type of woman each is.  Emilia is of a lower social status than Desdemona has has less couth.  She is bawdy, unafraid to speak her mind most of the time, and takes risks.   she is not a "proper" woman, so to speak.  She can also be manipulative.  Desdemona, on the other hand, is of a high social class and is proper, rather quiet, obedient, and loyal/faithful.

Emilia is suspicious of men and voices her concerns to Desdemona in "roundabout" ways. She, at times, talks in riddles as to not upset Desdemona, but she is clearly not trusting of men.  She is aware of what men want and how they "operate."  Desdemona is much more trusting and is naive.  She is much more trusting than Emilia and suspects nothing.  The two are close friends because they balance each other out well; however, Emilia is also, in some ways, a protector for Desdemona:

Near the end of the play, Emilia will not be silenced in her efforts to bring Desdemona's killers to justice. She even defies Othello in his efforts to physically intimidate her. She says, "I'll make thee known / Though I lost twenty lives" (V.ii.166-167). In the end, Iago can only silence Emilia by stabbing her to death. (eNotes)