The Role of Women in Othello

645 WordsFeb 3, 20183 Pages
There are only three female characters in William Shakespeare's play Othello, Desdemona, Othello’s wife, Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s lady-in-waiting, and Bianca, a courtesan. When first introduced to this limited number of representatives of the female gender, it is quickly assumed that they will not be very present or have an important role in story. In addition, the male characters of the play see women as submissive and promiscuous possessions that should be controlled by either their fathers or spouses. However Shakespeare’s female characters are shown to question male authority and to have the ability to speak for themselves, which could be seen as feminist statement during the Elizabethan time that Shakespeare lived in. Desdemona can easily be seen to embody an example of the perfect women in an Elizabethan society, being beautiful, obedient, and high born. Her submissive nature is often seen through her own lines in the play, for example “I am obedient” (III.3.89) and her statement in act 4 when Othello tells her to go to bed she replies with “I will, my lord” (IV.3.9). She continues to comply throughout the play, and even in her last moment she lies for her husband saying that she took her own life. Emilia is the female character who’s strength is more obvious than the rest, shown by her open willingness to betray her husband even though she is aware of that it is not the proper thing to do. “Tis proper I obey him, but not now” (V.2.195). However she
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