Essay on Discrimination Against Women in Othello

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Discrimination Against Women in Othello

The Shakespearean drama Othello renders less to the female gender than it does to the male gender. All the women characters are victims – unjustly so. Let’s talk about the obvious sexism throughout the play.

Susan Snyder in “Othello: A Modern Perspective” expounds on the sexist notions typical of Venice:

The pervasive notion of woman as property, prized indeed but more as object than as person, indicates one aspect of a deep-seated sexual pathology in Venice. [. . .] Fear of women’s sexuality is omnipresent in Othello. Iago fans to flames the coals of socially induced unease in Othello, fantasizes on his own about being cuckolded by Othello and Cassio. In an ideology
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This does not mean that she merits the terrible accusations flung at her by Othello, nor does she in any way deserve her death, but she is partly responsible for the tragic action of the play. Othello’s behavior and mounting jealousy are made more comprehensible if we remember what Elizabethan husbands might expect of their wives. (45)

In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his hatred for the general Othello for his selection of Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello: “Call up her father, / Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight [. . .] .” Implied in this move is the fact of a father’s assumed control over the daughter’s choice of a marriage partner. Iago’s warning to the senator follows closely: “'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown; / Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul.” This statement also implies that the father has authority over the daughter. Brabantio’s admonition to Roderigo implicitly expresses the same message:

The worser welcome:

I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:

In honest
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