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Medea versus Desdemona


To be able to make any meaningful comparison and contrast between any two characters, one has to be fully endowed with knowledge about the parties in question. Therefore, the objective is to establish comparison and contrast between Medea and Desdemona. First, we have to know who they are. To start with, Desdemona is a citizen of Venice, as presented in William Shakespeare’s play, Othello. She is a Venetian who disregards the orders and interests of her father, a senator of Venice, and elopes with Othello, a man who is presented to be several years older than her. After a while, Othello is deployed to Venice to work, as a result, he moves there together with Desdemona. They are faced with faithfulness issues such that Othello is made to think her wife is cheating on him and as the play winds up, we find that, Othello murders Desdemona. On the other hand, we dig a little on Medea. Medea is a character that is featured in the Greek mythology, being born to a royal family; she is a daughter of King Aeetes of Colchis and she gets married to Jason Amn, whom she really loves and to whom she gives birth to two children (Bongie & Bryson). Their marriage is faced with an obstacle when Jason is offered a bride by the name Glauce, a daughter to King Creon and marries her. This move does not appease Medea who decides to avenge the humiliation by Jason, as presented in the play, Medea. In trying to evaluate these two characters, it is evident that they have some relation.

From the point of view of women as possessions, we focus on Desdemona and Medea to be able to understand how women are, how they react when confronted with certain circumstances and the consequences of the stands they choose to take. In the play Othello, for instance, Desdemona is a very elaborate, humble, selfless, conscious and respectful woman to her husband; these are important virtues to uphold especially if you want to achieve a fruitful coexistence with a spouse. However, Othello treats Desdemona as his property and she does not object her husband. When Othello is accused of adultery, she is brave and spirited to fight and prove her innocence to her husband. Since she has always done everything to hold her marriage together because it is her sole source of happiness and sense of belonging; despite this fact and her knowledge that she is innocent, she is still trying to defend her husband from the consequences of his actions of murder following the fact that she was wrongly accused. Therefore, all factors kept constant as illustrated, Desdemona is a very selfless woman.

On the other hand, when Jason abandons Medea and accepts to marry Glauce, the bride offered to him by King Creon, ruler of Corinth, his wife Medea embarks on a vengeful mission that would stop at nothing to ensure she conquers Jason for abandoning her. As the play unfolds, Medea does whatever it takes just to be with Jason because she really loves him. For instance, she stole from her father, murdered her brother and even Jason’s uncle in the quest just to be with Jason. However, when Jason leaves her, as brought out by the play, she is infuriated and really wants to avenge Jason. She feels betrayed by her husband and she talks to the Corinthian women telling them that they should keep her secret because whenever she will find an opportunity that would come her way, she would grab it and she is going to stop at nothing but ensure that she hurts Jason, her bride and her father as well. It is clear that her love for Jason has turned to rage and remorse. She will not let any other woman have Jason other than her. This is why she is determined to destroy Jason since he has left her. As much as it may come out that, she is a jealous vengeful woman, it is important to note that these actions portray a very possessive woman at play.

Another important aspect of discussion is how submissive women are basing on the cases of Desdemona and Medea. Following the contention revolving around faithfulness as a factor, it was unclear that Desdemona was an adulterer. There were only a few claims to accuse her of adultery. For instance, when Othello saw Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief and there was an instance when he came back home and broke the news that Cassio had been killed in war and she busted into tears and immediately Othello concluded that this was a confirmation for Desdemona’s mischief. Othello was infuriated that he stroked and insulted Desdemona in public calling her a whore when he found out about the handkerchief and on the fateful day when she burst into tears following the news that Cassio had been killed, Othello suffocated her to death using a pillow. Despite the non-clear claims, Desdemona was hurt and disappointed by her husband’s attacks but she still respected and accorded her husband with so much love. In view of the fact that Desdemona does not retaliate and argue back with husband, it clearly points out her submissiveness to her husband, Othello. She will stop at nothing but just love her husband and take whatever her husband decides to do with her (Newman & Karen).

On the other hand, arguing the matter according to Medea part, submissiveness to her husband was not clearly portrayed, the case was contrary. First, when they initially met, Jason had come back to Colchis to claim the throne. Being in a position to help, Medea promised Jason her help only on the condition that Jason would marry her after she helps him achieve whatever he is pursuing. Jason was supposed to carry out various specific tasks in order to be given the fleece. He was supposed to plough a field using very hostile oxen but Medea put various measures into place that guaranteed his triumph. However, we don’t dispute the fact that Jason may have completed the task successfully even without Medea’s help but the chances were low. Secondly, he was supposed to fight and slay a dragon, and Medea gave the necessary support that Jason needed and he made it out victoriously. Medea also assassinated her brother so that it would distract her family as they fled from home with Jason. This deal was honored and they got married. These tentative steps and efforts portrayed by Medea have never been mistaken to be a sign of submissiveness because she only did what she did because of what was in it for her. Moreover, when Jason abandoned Medea for Glauce, any other ordinary woman would have most probably be bitter but would not have went ahead to hunt and hurt Jason, her bride and the bride’s father. It takes a broad step for any woman to embark on such a mission. We see that Medea was determined to conquer Jason at whatever cost. It is so evident that she cannot let go without a fight. She would do whatever it takes to eliminate any threat that dares to come her way; she is not a woman who heeds to whatever her husband says to comply and she is not that type of a woman that will let her man just abandon her by submitting to whatever he does as final. In comparison with the submissive Desdemona, we find that Medea is contrary to the latter and not submissive at all. (Lansky & Melvin 2005)

Women can be powerful in the society. In empowering and trying to conform to this argument, we revisit the play, Othello, and major on Desdemona. In the play, Desdemona is presented as a very eloquent, precise, intelligent and resourceful woman. For instance, in delivering a speech while addressing the audience, she does not deliver lengthy talks like other men but with her, each word she spit relayed the definite message it was intended to deliver; she did appeal to the audience. Moreover, as a commander’s wife, she always staged official receptions, received petitions and fulfilled her obligations as a wife to her husband, Othello. She was an outstanding and powerful woman.

We figure out how powerful Medea was; first, when she fell in love with Jason, she did what it took to get married to him. She prominently demonstrates how powerful she is especially when she addresses women telling them to keep her secret in case she manages to grab an opportunity to revenge Jason, her bride and father to her bride. This relieves a kind of a woman who is able to win over a group and convince it to collaborate in fulfilling a certain motive.

Capable of other known motives such as being possessive, powerful and so on, women can also be temptress. Having full knowledge that she loves Jason and would do anything to get married to him; Desdemona identifies the goal and objectives of Jason. She gives him offers to help him conquer the tests given to him by the king knowing that they are too good to decline and her having the best opportunity to strike a deal, she promises to only aid him on the condition that he will marry her. It is clear that the decision to marry Medea was not Jason's but was staged by Medea. He fell for an enticement that left him married to a woman he did not know he would ever marry since it was not his sole idea. On the other hand, as we feature Desdemona about the particular issue; in the beginning she is always presented as the Venetian beauty, even though not clearly captured; it might as well be one of the factors that Othello was allured with. Desdemona is also presented as a woman with an excellent element to arrest any person the way she brings out her ideas articulately. This may be one reason that also lured Othello into marrying her because she was promising.

In conclusion, we have established a number of attributes as illustrated above that are common to both Desdemona and Medea such as being powerful and being temptress. In addition, there are other attributes such as possessiveness and submissiveness distinctively portrayed in one character and not the other. However, Desdemona and Medea form a very resourceful basis for comparing and contrasting their attributes.

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