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Women of Shakespeare`S Othello

In: English and Literature

Submitted By coozmani
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Shakespeare's Attitude Toward Women in "Othello"

A quick summary of the play can be found here.

Shakespeare was always wary of women and careful to give them respect, which is obvious when reading Othello. The society of Othello is strongly dominated by men who are the political and military leaders of their homeland. These men are expected to stay loyal to their reputations and to uphold the strong sense of character that earned them their positions in the first place. Women on the other hand, are thought of as weak second-class citizens or even defective males, who are in place for nothing more than to serve their men. The captivating thing about Othello is Shakespeare’s upheaval of these expectations, demonstrating his malaise over the way gender relationships were so often represented. The monstrous actions and subsequent downfall of the men in Othello show how no one is above being corrupted and how men are not nearly as powerful as they seem. The resolve of the female characters demonstrates their capacities to do much more than simply serve. Furthermore, by the end of the play, I believe the men of Othello are not the ones who represent strength; instead, this title goes to the women.

From the way the play begins, women seem like nothing more than affectionate wives and pawns in Iago’s evil scheme. Emilia claims, “I nothing, but to please his fantasy,” (Norton Ed., 2157) referring to Iago, as she snatches up Desdemona’s handkerchief in order to give it to her husband. Such a line seems uncharacteristically submissive compared to the Emilia of later on, but it also shows her intriguing devotion to her husband who seems to care nothing for her. She does not trust Iago entirely though, as she tries to take the handkerchief back when Iago cannot explain why he wants it. Of course, the man is easily able to overpower his wife and he…...

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