The women in Othello are synonymous with Venetian societal standards. Only three women are characters in Othello: Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca but the roles these women play give the reader an idea of how women were portrayed, not only in Shakespeare's Othello but in society in general.
Women were viewed merely as possessions. After the Duke allows Desdemona to accompany Othello to Cyprus, Othello says 'To my conveyance I assign my wife' (I.3.283), this statement implies that Desdemona and a possession to be transported and guarded. The first Senators phrase 'use Desdemona well' (I.3.288) may suggest he hopes Othello will look after Desdemona, but is more likely to support the the expectations Venetian women had in the 1600s. They were …show more content…
Undoubtedly a stronger character, Emilia has also accepted her role in society. At the end of the play while revealing Iago's plan she states 'Tis proper I obey him, but not now' (V.2.195). Although she has just betrayed Iago,she still feels the need to explains her reasoning for not obeying him. Bianca is also a victim of the role society has set for women. She feels obligated by the standards of society to be circumstanced or to' put up with'. It was natural for women to be feminine and to obey the men of the society and it was unnatural for them to do anything of the contrary. this concept was widely believed and understood by Shakespeare's audience. Modern feminist disagree and say it is not natural for a woman to be feminine, however the women in Othello are pre-feminism and only seem to compound the ideologies of 'feminism' through their actions and behavior.
One should not assume that the women of Othello do not question the authority of men at all. Emilia, at the end of Act IV as she's talking to Desdemona explains that women are no different physically than men:
'Let husbands know,
Their wives have sense like them; they see and smell,
And have their palates both for sweet and sour
As husbands have' (IV.9.92-5)
She continues on to explain that men and women also share the same desires and affections, but the only difference is men are weaker mentally. This conversation takes place privately and Emilia does not
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
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
In Shakespeare’s time, women didn’t have as much freedom as they do now. Instead, it was a time that they ought to behave in a certain way in response to their family’s honour under a strict social hierarchy and rules. However, Shakespeare gave three women power in Othello. Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca, although they are from different social classes, are able to use their power to successfully resist male authority.
In ‘Othello’ Shakespeare portrays the main three female characters as being quite inferior to the other male characters such as Othello himself, Iago and Casto. Because during that time of which Shakespeare was writing these plays in the Elizabethan era. Society was in which religion was as at the very most top and after was men being the second part of the social ladder and later come women and rule justified women's subordination as the natural order because women were thought to be physiologically and psychologically inferior to men women were expected to be silent, chaste, and obedient to their husbands, fathers, brothers. Even education during the Elizabethan era was only for smart men, and not for women, the women were only allowed to work as cleaners and being mothers. Which makes them inferior to the male sex, we see this in
According to the general hierarchy when Shakespeare wrote his play, men were deemed to be more able than women. Instead in Othello, Shakespeare emphasizes the strength of Desdemona despite the stereotypical views about women. Desdemona is portrayed to be more able than the women and as able as the men in the Venetian society. Unlike other women in Othello, Desdemona proves to be very strong and relentless in her beliefs and love.
Second, the play Othello paid deep attention to women possessing the personality of being submissive. There are countless pieces of evidence from the play that strongly suggest that women are submissive. One is when after Othello said his farewell words to end his conversation with Desdemona in the garden of the castle. Desdemona have said “What e’er you be, I am obedient” (Act III, Scene 3, Line 89, Page 144). She claimed that she is amenable and continue to accommodate all of Othello’s instructions and commands and she wishes to follow
At the outset of the play Iago persuades the rejected suitor of Desdemona, Roderigo, to accompany him to the home of Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, in the middle of the night. Once there the two awaken the senator with loud shouts about his daughter’s elopement with Othello. This is the initial reference to the role of women in the play – the
In Shakespeare’s Othello, the role of women is greatly emphasized. The important characters of the play, Othello, Iago, and Cassio, each have a women that stands behind him. These women each have an obligation to remain loyal and respect their husband's wishes, especially Desdemona and Emilia.
Emilia is often dubbed as “the feminist of Othello” by a scholars and critics because of her, seemingly, fiery independence among a sea of submissive women (Caitlyn, Act Four: The Feminist of Othello). The characterization of a woman who speaks out for herself suggests that Shakespeare thought progressively as during that time women were mere objects rather than human beings. The plot of Othello revolves around the misgivings of poor communication and lack of trust among the characters. Tragedy ensues, as it does in all of Shakespeare's works, but could it have been prevented? Report after report applaud Shakespeare for developing a true feminist role model, however sometimes a character who has attitude gets mistaken for honorable. This poses the question, does Emilia truly deserve the title as of a feminist?
Othello, by William Shakespeare is well known for its richness in literary content and elements pertinent to societal ideas. Moreover, women are portrayed in Othello in ways that confirm, but also contradict their treatment in Shakespeare’s time. Both female action and language represent these ideas such as expectations for a wife and expectations for how a woman is to act. That said, there are many other lines spoken by these characters that defy the expectations placed on women at time. Overall, the feminist critical lens allows a reader to understand Othello and the manner in which it is slightly sexist and controversial. This lens allows the reader to observe both discrepancies of how women are treated, and common characteristics found
Throughout the length of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello there is a steady undercurrent of sexism. It is originating from not one, but rather various male characters in the play, who manifest prejudicial, discriminatory attitudes toward women.
Othello represents a prime example of Shakespeare's ability to develop relationships between the sexes so as to demonstrate those relationships' weaknesses. In Othello, the sexes are divided by misconceptions and ego- centric views of the opposite gender. The men of the play, in particular Othello, maintain a patriarchal, chivalric notion of the sexes, while the women of the play yearn for more involvement in their husbands' affairs. So it is that the thrust of the play emerges from "the opposition of attitudes, viewpoints, and sexes." (Neely 214)
Emilia describes her belief that women are equal to man in almost all ways, and therefore it should be culturally accepted that women respond to unfair treatment as a man would. Literary Articles commented on the line ‘frailty that thus errs (IV.ⅲ.98)’ , saying what “Emilia implies, is that men are mentally weaker” (“The Role of Women in Othello: A Feminist Reading” 17). If this statement is held true to Emilia’s character, than she should be able to out-think her male counterparts, yet she often falls victim to Iago's manipulation.
Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello features sexism as regular fare – initially from Brabantio and Iago, and finally from Othello. Let us in this essay explore the occurrences and severity of sexism in the drama.
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.
If society is asked how they portray women, their answers would vary exponentially. Their speculations would depend on personal experience and how society portrays women in general. In the play, Othello, William Shakespeare portrays Desdemona and Emilia as confident and loyal, which causes them to be mistreated. Shakespeare demonstrates this through their speech and actions but also shows how disrespected they are by their loved ones even though they remain loyal to them.