Women In Othello Essay

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Throughout history, there have been social hierarchies imposed upon society. Perhaps one of the most influential was the imposition upon women during the Renaissance era. Women during the Renaissance patriarchy were expected to be proper, pure, and above all else, mindful of the men in their life. In her essay, “Women in Othello”, Farah Karim-Cooper argues that William Shakespeare’s play, Othello, creates complicated dynamics and roles for the women within it, due to the fact that Shakespeare himself did not believe that women fit easily within the roles that they had been assigned. This essay will seek to prove, in agreeance with Karim-Cooper, that Desdemona and Emilia do not, in fact, fit neatly into the boxes that the Renaissance…show more content…
Desdemona is originally portrayed to readers as beautiful beyond words, but also wicked, because she goes behind her father’s back in order to marry the Moor, Othello. In act 1, scene 3, Desdemona is brought before the Senate, the Duke, her father, and her new husband, Othello. The expectation of women during this period was, as Karim-Cooper puts it, that: “They should not speak very often, and certainly not about matters of state or important issues that only men would be able to discuss” (Karim-Cooper 1). Desdemona, contrary to the publicly imposed gender roles, spoke up when asked about what her intentions and feelings were. After her father accuses Othello of stealing his daughter, she says,
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 showed/ To you, preferring you before her father,/ So much I challenge that I profess/ Due to the Moor my lord (1.3.179-88).
By saying this to her audience of men, she directly goes against almost all the ways in which a woman was expected to act. In speaking up for herself and her marriage in front of such important men, she is throwing away the idea that women should be seen and not heard. She is also disappointing her father by saying that she is no longer loyal to him, but to her husband, Othello, whom
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