• Created by: rukky2001
  • Created on: 23-11-18 19:07

JEAN E. HOWARD (feminist critic)

  • "The case of Desdemona is complex as she suffers the conventional fate assigned to the desiring woman." 
  • "Shakespeare's representation of her dislocates the conventional ideology of gender within the play.”

Ultimately, Desdemona is blamed for attracting the gaze of other men. Perhaps this attraction could stem from her lack of understanding of what is means to be a good Venetian wife, since her naivety results in her flouting gender expectations i.e. to be submissive, thus maybe making her seem more innocent and therefore more attractive.

1 of 6

MARYLIN FRENCH (feminist critic)

  • "Desdemona accepts her cultural dictum (general principle) that she must be obedient to males." 

  • Desdemona is self-denying in the extreme even when she dies." 

Despite her assertiveness by choosing her own husband, she is still a conforming Venetian woman. Her act of rebellion against her father was "pointless" as she gave Othello the same respect, she would give her father.

2 of 6

LISA JARDINE (feminist critic)

  • "Desdemona is too knowing and too independent." 
  • "As a result of this waywardness, she is punished by patriarchy." 

Shares French's viewpoint about the misogyny of Othello but suggests that the nature of a Jacobean drama is wholly masculine, therefore there would only be a male viewpoint on offer. Ultimately, Jardine suggests that Desdemona becomes a stereotype of female passivity.

3 of 6


  • "The fiery openness of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affectation, inflexible in his resolution."
  • "The cool malignity of Iago, silent in his resentment, subtle in his designs, and studios at once of his interest and his vengeance."
  • "The soft simplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and conscious of innocence."

Regarded Othello as true to life and a skilful depiction of human nature. He believed that Iago was indeed as careful and skilful as he was, premediating his every move. Desdemona is seen by Johnson as knowing of her innocence but using it to her advantage.

4 of 6

COLERIDGE (19th Century critic)

  • "Othello is not a ***** but a high and chivalrous Moorish chief."
  • "Iago is driven by motionless malignity."

He maintains the viewpoint that it was more acceptable within nineteenth century ideals for  Desdemona to fall in love with a protagonist of Arabic appearance/ descent than one from the sub-Saharan African region. Coleridge rejects jealousy as ‘point in passion’; rather, it is that the one Othello considered so angelic should be proved impure and worthless.

5 of 6

G. Wilson Knight (20th Century critic)

  • "A way to describe Othello’s heroic style of speech​ could be seen as the grand oration and sweeping rhythms of Act 1:  ‘Most potent , grave, and reverend signors’ (1.3.77).  - rhetoric ‘the power of three".


Knight called this "Othello Music", whereby Shakespeare invests Othello with a romantic glamour that makes Desdemona’s love for him believable. Jan Knott also comments on this idea saying that "there is enchanting poetry here, but at the same time a decaying set of values… shall Othello crawl at Iago’s feet  as if he were unable to break away from the images of monkeys and goats.

6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Language & Literature resources:

See all English Language & Literature resources »See all OTHELLO resources »