4 December 2011
The Trials and Tribulations of Desdemona: Doomed from the start
Desdemona’s child-like tendencies are an outlet for her suppressed emotions during her childhood. When she marries Othello behind her father’s back, the stereotypical women’s role is broken. She then becomes afraid of the punishment she will receive for doing this so she subliminally tries to fix it by helping Cassio. Despite her best efforts, she gets her punishment in the end when Othello kills her in jealous rage. Desdemona’s fear of punishment causes her to have an increased desire to help people in order to avoid the thing that ultimately led to her demise. Desdemona grew up in a time where woman were meant to be seen and not heard. Iago proves this in his conversation with Desdemona and Emillia at the docks when he says She that was ever fair and never proud, had tongue at will and yet was never loud, never lacked gold and yet went never gay, fled from her wish and yet said “Now I may,” she that being angered, her revenge being nigh, bade her wrong stay and her displeasure fly, she that in wisdom never was so frail to change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail, she that could think and ne'er disclose her mind, see suitors following and not look behind, she was a wight, if ever such wights were—…..to suckle fools and chronicle small beer” (act 2 scene 1 page 8). Barbantio enforced this, and she became a very virtuous person. We see evidence of this when he confronts Othello about his marriage to Desdemona, and says “a maiden never bold of spirit so still and quiet that her motion blushed at herself” (act one scene 3 page 5). This statement Kosmas 2 reflects that Barbantio’s forceful upbringing caused her to repress all of her rebellious tendencies. When she is caught by her father, she awaits the punishment that usually follows rule breaking. As a child growing up Barbantio instilled in his daughter that the worse the bad deed, the stronger the punishment. In marrying Othello, Desdemona believes that she has committed the worse deed she can commit and so she knows that she will receive the most severe punishment.
In order to avoid her punishment, Desdemona’s super ego tries to do extreme good to balance out her rebellious act in marrying Othello. This is why she tries to do good by settling the dispute between Cassio and Othello. Her subconscious believes that by doing this she will reverse or prevent her pending punishment. Again, this can be traced back to her father who placed this idea in her head that any deed she did that would make her