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The Role of the Female Characters in Shakespeare’s Othello Essay

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In Shakespeare’s Othello, we the audience are introduced to several characters throughout the course of the play, three of which are female. These characters are Desdemona, wife to Othello, Emilia, wife to Iago and Bianca, Casio’s lover.
Shakespeare has chosen to present the reader with only three female characters for specific reasons, as we are able to compare and contrast and see the differences in females in a male dominated society. It also helps us the audience to see how different woman, in different social classes would behave in 16th century Venetian time. A time where the men are seen to have all the intellect and power, and woman are considered to take the traditional “housewife role” and also to be seen and not heard. When Shakespeare presents the lead female character of Desdemona he presents a character, with different levels to her personality, and in many ways also a character that symbolises innocence and helplessness. So when trying to answer the above question about the play Othello being a “woman’s tragedy”, we have to think about questions such as with the main character
“Is it Desdemona’s fault that she ended up becoming a victim?”
“Or was it truly a Woman’s tragedy rather than it being a tragedy as a w hole”
rather than society as a whole impacting on her downfall?
We the audience first meet the character of Desdemona when her Father is objecting to her being with and getting married to Othello a Moor, someone who is not only a different race and religion to her, but also a lot older than her. Her father strongly disagrees to them getting married, but Desdemona argues that she really does love Othello, and that he is the right person for her. As she says “...


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...e to men’s insecurities a chain of event progressed which resulted in the death of two of the three women. This would make a person more inclined to think it was a woman’s tragedy, as woman died needlessly and at the hands of man and make the woman in the play be seen as victims. Even though their circumstances led to them eventually becoming one, Desdemona and Emilia certainly didn’t intentionally let themselves become one, or regard themselves as one even when their husbands treated them more like objects than wives. This is because I think that Shakespeare’s idea of marriage at that time was that neither could live or survive without each other But some people may argue that you cannot just categorise it into just a woman’s tragedy, as the play is a big tragedy as a whole. With everyone’s discrepancies and faults impacting on the demise of everyone as a whole.


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