10 Pages

Desdemona: The Ill-Starred Heroine of Indirect Communication

ByAna Pinto Leite

Desdemona is the main female character in William Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, written between 1601 and 1602.1 Its main source was a tale in Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinthio’s (1504-73) Gli Hecatommithi (Decade 3, Story 7), first published in 1565.2 In Cinthio’s story, the only character that is named is the Moor’s wife, Disdemona. The name is already a presage of her fate since the Greek δυσδαίμων means “unhappy” or “unfortunate.”3