who is innocent in othello?how is desdemona innocent

5 Answers

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ssengupta | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Depends on what "innocent" means. If by innocent it means one who has done no wrong, then Cassio and Desdemona are innocent. BUT: if by innocent it means that someone was duped by lies, then a case can be made about Othello that he was corrupted with lies by Iago, so he, Othello, was innocent.

The Elizabethan court was much more primitive than the British court today. Were Othello to be tried today for the murder of his wife he would be found "guilty," but with substantial reservations about being severely misled. The real villain of the play, then and now, is Iago who poisoned Othello's ears.

As a play "Othello" was typical of the Elizabethan World Order where Nature and naturalness was privileged. For everything there was a place in the hierarchical order of Shakespare's world. He was aware of this, and his plays were often polemical debates about this world order, though Shakespeare himself probably would have never admitted it!

In "Othello" he presents us with a very subtle question about society's rigidity: you have created a world where physical and military power reigns supreme. In this world arrives a general known for his military might, the conqueror of his enemies. But he is also innocent, gullible and, yes, jealous. Your daughter marries him because she loves his heroism, his prowess. Then THIS happens! Himself an innocent (verging towards stupid), he kills is loving innocent wife believing everything Iago, the liar, says.

Think about it: says Shakespeare







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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Desdemona tries to do the right thing by everyone she is in contact with. Even in dealing with her elopement with Othello, she acknowledges her debt to her father and the 'divided duty' she feels. She wishes all to be well with Othello and Cassio, missing the cues to her husband's displeasure.

Desdemona does condemn herself on her deathbed by lying in her final breath as to how she came to be fatally hurt. The implication is that she will face purgatory for her lie: an ultimate sacrifice as she did so to protect Othello.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The first post nicely lays out a case for Othello's innocence, but does not really say why Desdemona is innocent.  Desdemona is innocent because she never did the things that she is accused of doing.  Specifically, she never cheated on Othello.

You can say that she has done bad things (or things that would have been seen as bad back then).  Specifically, she eloped with Othello against her father's wishes.  However, she was never unfaithful to Othello and therefore, she is innocent.

User Comments

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xbbe | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Desdemona is because she is said to be having an affair with Cassio, but it is not true, she is faithful to her husband.