Vanita, Ruth. “‘Proper’ Men And ‘Fallen’ Women: The Unprotectedness

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Vanita, Ruth. “‘Proper’ Men and ‘Fallen’ Women: The Unprotectedness of Wives in Othello.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 34, no. 2, 1994, p. 341. MLA International Bibliography EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/450905. Accessed 12 Mar. 2017.
There are a great deal of plays that end with the death of a wife, often due to rumors of cheating. While many of these plays serve to provide violence in the private, domestic sphere, Othello pushes this issue into the public eye. Although there are many opinions on whose fault the deaths may be, Vanita argues that Desdemona and Emilia are very similar in their deaths. She feels that these deaths are caused by a series of ever escalating male characters as well as those who refuse to
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Similarly, another option for escape is taken away by her husband’s refusal to return to Venice, as the character Lodovico announces they are able to do. Lodovico, continuing the running theme of uninvolved witnesses, sees Othello strike Desdemona without reason, but chooses not to insert himself into the situation. A more sarcastic reading of the unrobing scene would help to support the theory that Desdemona’s feelings have changed towards her once familiar cousin. A clear point is made on page 348 of the article, stating “Desdemona is killed not only by Othello and Iago but also by all those who see her humiliated and beaten in public, and fail to intervene” (Vanita). This is contrasted strongly by some of the male-male relationships, as it is made very public when a dual or violent event occurs between two members of the male sex. This trend of the abused and murdered wife can also be seen in the character Emilia. Vanita argues that Emilia’s death has a similar process as Desdemona’s, but is much shorter in the eyes of the audience. The lack of involvement from other characters is what makes the environment one where a wife can become a victim easily. However, Emilia most evidently becomes a victim after she has revealed Iago’s secret plan. She is suddenly in danger, having told everyone of her husband’s guilt, but none of the characters think to protect her from her obviously
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