"Desdemona soliciting favours for Cassio of her husband"

Othello and Desdemona
Public DomainOthello and Desdemona - Credit: Alexandre-Marie Colin 1829
Desdemona is a beautiful young woman in Shakespeare’s Othello.  She enrages and disappoints her father, a Venetian senator, when she elopes with Othello, a Moor who is several years her senior.  As the play unfolds, Othello's lieutenant, Cassio, is disgraced in a brawl, and falls from Othello's favour. Othello’s ensign, Iago, persuades Cassio to ask Desdemona to intercede for him, which she does.  Iago then persuades Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio.  Desdemona proclaims her innocence and her undimished love for Othello, but he is convinced of her infidelity, and murders her. 

Othello has its source in the 1565 tale, "Un Capitano Moro" by Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinthio, which may have been based on an actual incident occurring in Venice in about 1508.