Analysis Of William Shakespeare 's ' Othello ' Essay

Analysis Of William Shakespeare 's ' Othello ' Essay

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Celebrated English playwright William Shakespeare is arguably as renowned for his myriad magnetic, mesmeric characters as he is for writing the stunning plays that star them. From Twelfth Night’s charming heroine Viola to sinister Othello villain Iago, Shakespeare can be and is often credited with the invention of the most eclectic collection of characters ever crafted by a single writer. It is often taken for granted that this collection includes a subset of fascinating ancillary characters, but it should be noted that for every Hamlet, Shakespeare has also written a Laertes, and for every Desdemona, a Bianca, where each minor player is as intriguing – and, often, as pivotal to the progression of the play’s overarching plot – as their more famous foil. Bianca, especially, warrants a close analysis or, at the very least, a second consideration. Though she speaks no more than thirty-five lines across the entirety of Othello, she still manages to epitomize and exemplify many of its major themes, from the issue of gendered power imbalances to that of the ostracization of certain social groups to the fundamentally destructive nature and implications of jealousy.
That the Venetian society amidst which Othello takes place is inherently and intensely misogynistic is intimated at the very onset of the play. It is evident that Venetian women are expected to submit to the whims and the wills of both their fathers and their husbands. Brabantio, lamenting Desdemona’s clandestine love affair with – and subsequent marriage to – the titular Othello, asserts that his daughter had at one point been a good, virtuous woman: “A maiden never bold” (Othello 1.3.94), “Of spirit still and quiet” (Othello 1.3.95). He praises her for having been silent. F...

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... inferior to men, in fact occupy the moral high ground in this patriarchal society, but also as an antithesis to Iago and Othello, emphasizing just how disturbingly quickly they are consumed by their envy.
In conclusion: although many may read Shakespeare’s minor characters as superfluous additions to his plays, one does them a disservice when one discredits them as such. Like Bianca, they often act as signatories in communications of their respective plays’ most significant constituent themes. Bianca, upon close analysis, appears to serve an even greater purpose: she acts as an antithesis to several of the play’s key or “more ‘important’” characters, highlighting their various inadequacies and inconsistencies, which range from a general lack of self-awareness to deeply misogynistic tendencies, adding a sense of dimension to both their characters and the play itself.

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