Othello: Discrimination Against Women Essay

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Othello: the Discrimination Against Women

Yes, even in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello there is considerable sexism. Let us root out and analyze instances of obvious sexism in this play.

Even the noble general yielded to the sexist remarks and insinuations of his ancient, thus developing a reprehensible attitude toward his lovely and faithful wife. Angela Pitt in “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies” comments on the Moor’s sexist treatment of Desdemona:

Desdemona has, therefore, some quite serious faults as a wife, including a will of her own, which was evident even before she was married. This does not mean that she merits the terrible accusations flung at her by Othello, nor does she in any way deserve
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. .] . (1.1)

Iago’s continuing earthy appraisals of the situation all seem to bestow upon the father the power to make decisions for the daughter. Roderigo even calls Desdemona’s action a “revolt” against paternal authority: “Your daughter, if you have not given her leave, / I say again, hath made a gross revolt [. . .] .” Upon verifying the absence of his daughter from the home, Brabantio exhorts all fathers to “trust not” their daughters, implicitly alleging a predisposition among young ladies to rebel against authority.

Othello, the general and protagonist, seems initially to be totally lacking in sexism. He loves Desdemona as an equal and accepts her with no preconditions:

As this that I have reach'd: for know, Iago,

But that I love the gentle Desdemona,

I would not my unhoused free condition

Put into circumscription and confine

For the sea's worth. (1.2)

When Brabantio has finally located Othello, with torches on another street in the middle of the night, the senator exclaims loudly his right of ownership: “O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd my daughter?” With the Turkish campaign against Cyprus in motion, the Duke of Venice scarcely has time for Brabantio’s protestations. Furthermore, the duke recognizes Desdemona’s right to marry
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