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A Feminist Perspective of Othello Essay

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A Feminist Perspective of Othello   

 
Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello closes the final scene of the last act with the spiritual superiority of the heroine firmly established over that of the hero. This is one of many aspects regarding the feminine perspective on the drama, the subject of this essay.

A.C. Bradley, in his book of literary criticism, Shakespearean Tragedy, describes the violence against the heroine as a “sin against the canons of art”:

To some readers, again, parts of Othello appear shocking or even horrible. They think – if I may formulate their objection – that in these parts Shakespeare has sinned against the canons of art, by representing on the stage a violence or brutality the effect of which is unnecessarily painful and rather sensational than tragic. The passages which thus give offence are probably those already referred to – that where Othello strikes Desdemona (IV.i.251), that where he affects to treat her as an inmate of a house of ill-fame (IV.ii), and finally the scene of her death. (174)

At the outset of the play only the male perspective is given: 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. In response to the noise and Iago’s vulgar descriptions of Desdemona’s involvement with the general, Brabantio arises from bed. With Roderigo’s help, he gathers a search party to go and find Desdemona and bring her home. The father’s attitude is that life without his Desdemona will be much worse than before:

It is too true an evil: gone she is;

     And what's to come of my despised...


... middle of paper ...


...espearean Tragedy. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Di Yanni, Robert. “Character Revealed Through Dialogue.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Literature. N. p.: Random House, 1986.

Gardner, Helen. “Othello: A Tragedy of Beauty and Fortune.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from “The Noble Moor.” British Academy Lectures, no. 9, 1955.

Heilman, Robert B. “Wit and Witchcraft: an Approach to Othello.” Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Ed. Leonard F. Dean. Rev. Ed. Rpt. from The Sewanee Review, LXIV, 1 (Winter 1956), 1-4, 8-10; and Arizona Quarterly (Spring 1956), pp.5-16.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.


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