Othello and His Masculinity Essay

863 Words Mar 7th, 2012 4 Pages
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‘Be a man’, how are ideas of masculinity presented in Othello.

Othello is set during the Elizabethan era, where men were considered to be the leaders and women their inferiors. Women were often regarded as the ‘weaker sex’. This patriarchal society and theme of male superiority is portrayed throughout the play. These themes are depicted through the relationships between the characters. Brabantio and Desdemona’s relationship shows how he believed the traditional Elizabethan view, that men were to control and dominate their wife’s or daughters. He is furious at Othello for stealing his daughter from him. Also, Othello’s masculinity is destroyed through the poisoning of his mind against Desdemona, his wife. Iago also treats his wife
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Othello believes that Desdemona is his possession, an object in his life which is supposed to show he honour and reputation as a man, therefore the belief that Desdemona has broken that honour and nobility forces Othello to destroy her.

We can see the breakdown of Othello’s masculinity by the breakdown of his language. At the beginning of the play, Shakespeare uses blank verse for Othello’s parts. Othello speak in iambic pentameter, clearly and purposefully. He portrays himself and a confident and noble man when Brabantio accuses him for using witchcraft to win Desdemona. He replies in a poetic and calm manner, in comparison to Brabantio, who is aggressive and rude. Othello states, “Rude am I in my speech…” he is very humble, he apologises beforehand in case he offends anyone. We recognise him as a powerful speaker; we also know that Desdemona is seduced by his storytelling, therefore showing him as authoritative and dominating. However, as the play moves on and we begin to see Iago deception taking over Othello’s mind, his speech turns to prose. He begins to turn aggressive as he takes in more or Iago manipulative lies. “Damn her, lewd minx!, oh damn her, damn her!” and regards Desdemona as “the fair devil”, he speaks in hell imagery, which is in contrast to his previous heavenly marriage with Desdemona. This shows he is weak, therefore destroying his masculinity once again.

Furthermore, Othello is a black man in a
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