Home > Q&A > Literature > What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia?
Cite this
Q

What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia?

A

Desdemona is a daughter of a powerful Venetian politician, educated and gentle. She became a wife of a general in the Venetian army, Othello, which is also prestigious. Her relationship was healthy and loving in the beginning. For her, everything changed throughout the play.

In contrast, Emilia is from a middle-class family, married to an abusive officer, Iago. Yet she has much more life experience than Desdemona. As a result, she isn’t surprised by the turn of events.

Detailed answer:

Desdemona’s character changes after her marriage to Othello. Before becoming a wife, she was a confident and outspoken person. From a reputable family, Desdemona is educated and speaks attentively.

After marrying Othello, the woman becomes naive and loses her strong character. At times, it seems like Desdemona is a prisoner of her marriage. Suffering from Othello’s abuse, she believes that there is no other option. She remains loyal to her husband and cares for him.

On the opposite, Emilia believes in the freedom to choose. She has a favorable relationship with Desdemona, being her servant. Sometimes, she even shares her view on marriage and men in general:

Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is: and doth affection breed it?
I think it doth: is’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too: and have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
(Act 4, Scene 3)

Emilia considers herself to be loyal, yet understands how men force women to cheat. While Desdemona showcases the signs of faithfulness, Emilia’s fidelity remains a mystery, as she states:

The world’s a huge thing: it is a great price.
For a small vice.
[…]
Why, who would
not make her husband a cuckold to make him a
monarch? I should venture purgatory for’t.
(Act 4, Scene 3)

Differences do not end here. Unlike Desdemona, Emilia is from an average family. Even her marriage to Iago didn’t elevate her status. She has not received a quality education and makes mistakes while speaking. In contrast, Desdemona constructs correct sentences.

Another critical difference is that Desdemona is naive. Getting married, she wasn’t prepared for the challenges that come along with the arrangement. Othello’s lack of self-confidence makes him a suspicious and demanding husband. Desdemona wasn’t ready for his jealousy and doesn’t know how to deal with it:

So would not I my love doth so approve him,
That even his stubbornness, his cheques, his frowns–
Prithee, unpin me,–have grace and favour in them.
(Act 4, Scene 3)

Emilia is a much-experienced person and understands reality much better than Othello’s wife. She realizes that she is a captive of her marriage with Iago. During her conversation with Desdemona, the reader sees how she analyses women’s status. She doesn’t consider it fair and criticizes society and men’s behavior. That is why her speech seems feminist for the period.

Emilia always tries to influence her status by taking different measures. Desdemona, however, accepts her situation. She is either not willing or unable to change anything, obeying Othello till the end:

He says he will return incontinent:
He hath commanded me to go to bed,
And bade me to dismiss you.
(Act 4, Scene 3)

Her hesitancy to take events under control doesn’t stop Othello from becoming deceived and rude.

The attitudes of the two women toward adultery are also different. Emilia admits that she doesn’t consider it a crime. Throughout the text, there are cases when Iago treats his wife without dignity. It makes her views credible in her and the reader’s eyes. In contrast, Desdemona honors her husband even under his pressure. When Othello accuses his wife of being unfaithful, Desdemona does not object. This is an excellent illustration of Desdemona’s loss of character. She has lost her opinionated personality after getting married. Abused by her husband, she became a submissive woman.

Comparing Desdemona and Emilia, mentioning common things is essential as well. They are both married women. Any reader can consider them captives of their marriages. Both characters have a sense of pride and dignity. Desdemona never betrays Othello, even on her deathbed. Emilia sacrifices her life to save her mistress’s honor.

Shakespeare demonstrates how similar situations can be handled differently. Besides, he shows how different backgrounds can lead to the same problems.

Answer's rating:

IvyPanda
IvyPanda
Answered by IvyPanda
One of our experts with a specialization in Literature has kindly provided an answer to this question. Feel free to rate the answer and let us know if you liked it.

Cite This paper

Select a citation style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2020, November 19). What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia? https://ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-great-difference-between-desdemona-and-emilia/

Reference

IvyPanda. (2020, November 19). What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-great-difference-between-desdemona-and-emilia/

Work Cited

"What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia?" IvyPanda, 19 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-great-difference-between-desdemona-and-emilia/.

1. IvyPanda. "What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia?" November 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-great-difference-between-desdemona-and-emilia/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia?" November 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-great-difference-between-desdemona-and-emilia/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia?" November 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-great-difference-between-desdemona-and-emilia/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'What is the great difference between Desdemona and Emilia'. 19 November.

Check the price of your paper