Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”

Paper Info
Page count 2
Word count 598
Read time 3 min
Topic Literature
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US


Desdemona from William Shakespeare’s Othello and Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion are characters who struggle with the consequences of social prejudice and defiance of social norms due to their pride. The two heroines have different backgrounds, but Eliza develops manners as the plot progresses, while Desdemona is born into a wealthy family. Both plays are based on different eras, yet both personalities have similar traits and ideas about the way of behaving in society.

Desdemona from William Shakespeare’s “Othello”

Desdemona is the daughter of the wealthy Italian Brabanzio, who is unable to understand how his well-bred, kind, and obedient daughter could fall in love with Othello. Desdemona is indeed compassionate; while listening to Othello’s sea narratives of military battles, Desdemona truly falls in love with him and agrees to a secret wedding in defiance of her father’s prohibitions. The most important for Desdemona is to be with the man she loves, and she departs with him for a distant garrison (Shakespeare). Accused of treason by her husband, Desdemona attempts to pacify him and convince him that she is innocent and has never had treason in her mind.; however, the jealous and hot-tempered Othello kills her. The image of the pure and virtuous Desdemona is symbolic; her love proved purer, stronger, and higher than the love of the man who murdered her through a false and ridiculous accusation (Williams and Mitchell 31). The idea of the young beauty Desdemona embodies female fidelity, humility, and tender love.

Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”

Elisa is a girl from an ordinary family, no different from anyone else. She has an attractive appearance, but far from eloquent language dispels the illusion, ruthlessly revealing all reality. In the fourth act of Pygmalion, a completely different Eliza appears before the audience: a confident woman who will not renounce her own happiness easily. She has learned the correct literary pronunciation and proper behavior in high society (Shaw). The young woman has conquered the world through hard work and beauty, but the oddball scientist Higgins seems to overlook her.

Two thoughts are struggling in Eliza’s soul: she realizes that she fell in love with the teacher in her own way, and, on the other hand, he does not need her. In this situation, the young woman begins to behave like a really offended lady. She expresses all the negativity that has accumulated in her heart during this time. It becomes clear that Eliza is an influential person, but she will never defeat Higgins. In this apparently hopeless situation, the heroine finds a solution that finally grants her victory over her circumstances; the image of Eliza is highly relevant today (Kurtović 58). The young lady demonstrates that whatever difficulties do not hinder people on their way to a better life, they should work diligently, and after some time, all stereotypes will be destroyed.


Although the plays are written in different periods, both characters share similar traits and ideologies of behavior in society. They tried to change social prejudices to find their own happiness. One character sacrificed her status for the purpose of the love that ruined her. Such an act was against the rules of society at the time, but Desdemona wanted a chance at happiness. The other lady made many efforts to conform to a high community standard. It is also, in turn, Eliza Doolittle attempted to maintain her dignity even in her relationship with the man she loved. Therefore, the characteristics of these personages are various, but they are united by the power of fighting for their ideas and beliefs.

Works Cited

Kurtović, Iva. “Gender and Class in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.” Patchwork, vol. 7, 2021, pp. 58-71.

Shakespeare, William. Othello: 1622. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion. Dover Publications, 1994.

Williams, Tennessee, and Tom Mitchell. “Why Did Desdemona Love the Moor?” The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, vol. 19, 2020, pp. 24-56.

Cite this paper


EssaysInCollege. (2022, December 28). Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”. Retrieved from


EssaysInCollege. (2022, December 28). Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”.

Work Cited

"Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”." EssaysInCollege, 28 Dec. 2022,


EssaysInCollege. (2022) 'Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”'. 28 December.


EssaysInCollege. 2022. "Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”." December 28, 2022.

1. EssaysInCollege. "Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”." December 28, 2022.


EssaysInCollege. "Desdemona from Shakespeare’s “Othello” vs. Eliza from Shaw’s “Pygmalion”." December 28, 2022.