Essay about The Impact of Gender on Shakespeare's Othello

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The Impact of Gender on Shakespeare’s Othello In the book “Gender Trouble” (1990), feminist theorist Judith Butler explains “gender is not only a social construct, but also a kind of performance such as a show we put on, a costume or disguise we wear” (Butler). In other words, gender is a performance, an act, and costumes, not the main aspect of essential identity. By understanding this theory of gender as an act, performance, we can see how gender has greatly impacted the outcome of the play in William Shakespeare’s Othello. From a careful analysis of the story, tragedy in Othello is result of violating expected gender roles, gender performance by Desdemona and Othello, and the result of Iago’s inability to tolerate these violations.…show more content…
However, in Othello, the character of Desdemona surpassed the norms of gender set for women of that time. There is no doubt to consider Desdemona is violating the social norms because she is willing to breach her social roles as a daughter and even as a wife at times. Through her “incorrect” gender performance, Shakespeare portrays Desdemona as a strong, independent woman who breaks away the gender barriers of patriarchal society. But at the end of the play, we know it is the consequence of her actions that have led her to death. Desdemona’s action, instead of asking her father’s permission, eloped with the Moor, Othello, is another form of social transgressive action. It seems she denies her father any right in choosing or granting, instead she decides in her own, to marry Othello. This act of independence illustrates Desdemona’s transgression to perform her role as daughter, and reflects icons of masculine which is considered as “incorrect” gender performance. Marrying Othello has also proved that Desdemona breaks the social norms of women’s passivity during her time. From Desdemona’s conversation with her father, My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty; To you I am bound for life and education; My life and education both do learn me How to respect you; you are the lord of duty, I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband; And so much duty as my mother show’d To
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