The Three Women Portrayed in Shakespeare's Othello Essay

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The basis of Shakespeare’s plays appears to focus mainly around the dominant male character and his conflicts, which tend to deal with a woman. There are only three women in the play Othello; Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca. The way in which these women behave and present themselves strongly reflects the ideological expectations of women within Shakespeare’s imagined Venetian society as well as the Elizabethan society in which he lived. This patriarchal Venetian society presented in the play depicts women as possessions of men who should remain submissive and meek at all times. The women are expected to unselfishly and unreservedly devote their lives to serve their fathers until they are of age to do so, their husbands. All three women love…show more content…
Desdemona is of the higher class and is depicted as a fair, pure and respected woman who makes her own decisions. This is evident from the references made about her in the opening Act, scene 1, spoken by Iago “ old black ram is tupping your white ewe” as well as in later scenes when she is constantly referred to as “fair Desdemona”. Her ability to make her own decisions was particularly evident within the opening Act where we learn of Desdemona’s deception to her father when she wed the man of her desire by denying her father any right to choose for her. This was Desdemona’s act of independence in her attempt to break away from male authority. Desdemona’s honesty and strong belief in morality plays on the good vs. evil concept with Iago’s character. Emilia acts similarly when she defies her husband in the final Act of the play. She is of a middle class and serves as a maid and a loyal friend to Desdemona. Her character is somewhat different as she follows her husband, Iago, diligently but speaks disparagingly of men and believes them to be foolish and perverse. This is particularly evident in Act 4 Scene 3 “let husbands know their wives have sense like them: they see, and smell, and have palates both for sweet and sour” and “what is it that they do when they change us for others? Is it sport? I think it is”. She expresses the inequality between men and women living in this time

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