To what extent are Desdemona and Lady Macbeth to blame for their husbands tragic ends?
Desdemona and Lady Macbeth
In Shakespeare’s plays Othello and Macbeth it is evident that the titled characters have a very close bond with their mates that is crucial to the development of the plot. Both wives are a significant consideration in the choices that their husbands make and directly or indirectly, wilfully or unwittingly impact their spouses’ ultimate fates. After examining the characters and actions of these two ladies and the influence they had upon their husbands’ decisions it is clear that they were both instrumental in bringing about their husbands’ tragic ends.
The audience’s first impression of Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello is that of a woman who refused to conform to the norms of the 17th century Venetian society concerning gender and social roles. Without her father Brabantio’s knowledge or consent, Desdemona exhibits her independence and strength of character as she defies convention by secretly wedding Othello. In addition to challenging Venetian male authority, this miscegenation was an affront to the prejudicial Venetian social order and a major perturbation to Brabantio who is convinced that his daughter must have been bewitched by the Moor. However, Desdemona’s choice to wed Othello is not a result of witchcraft and much more than the mere political statement of a liberated woman. With passion and conviction, “the summoned witness” Desdemona unabashedly makes a public declaration of her love for and devotion to Othello: “I saw Othello’s visage in his mind, And to his honours and his valiant parts Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.” (I. iii. 286-289) Evidently, Desdemona’s affection for Othello was multifaceted - she loved him for his bravery, his reputation, his intellect and his body. Throughout all the accusations, humiliation and mistrust (from Othello) instigated by the insidious Iago, Desdemona loves is unwavering as she pledges,...