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Essay On The Hierarchy Of Women In Othello

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In the era that Shakespeare lived, there was a universal hierarchy that men were superior to women. In his play, Othello, this social hierarchy that was in place at the time was challenged. Othello’s wife, Desdemona, does not follow this assumption that women are not independent. She is not a wimp; she is a soldier’s wife and fit to be so. In Othello, Iago is frustrated with his commanding officer, Othello, who promotes Cassio over him and plots to ruin Othello’s life. Iago appears honest and trustworthy, but through his actions causes Othello’s misery, suicide, and death of his wife, Desdemona. Despite the status of women at the time, Desdemona exhibits maturity and independence, expresses her own ideas, and stands up for herself to Othello.
Regardless of the status of women, Desdemona demonstrates independence and maturity. She makes her own decision to marry Othello without her father’s permission. When her father, Brabantio, discovers of the wedlock of her and Othello, she defends her decision by saying, “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 may profess due to the Moor my lord” (I, 3, 213-218). Desdemona does not just succeed in defending her decision, but she exhibits her independence from her father and that he cannot restrict her from marrying Othello. In addition to her independence, her maturity is shown by the fact that she has no racial prejudice. This level of racial tolerance she displays differs from the insults to Othello from Iago and Rodrigo, as well as the subconscious bias of the rest of the characters. While explaining her love for Othello to her father, Desdemona explains that she “saw Othello’s visage in his mind” (I, 3, ...

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...as I am a Christian…be a strumpet, I am not” (IV, 2, 95-98). He repeatedly calls Desdemona a whore and she is devastated, but stands up for herself. She says she is an honest Christian and is not a whore. Desdemona gathered the strength to stand up for herself to Othello despite his awful remarks. She has the strength to stand up to Othello, even when he is in a dangerous and threatening mood and few people would care to confront him.
Shakespeare makes Desdemona a prime counterexample to the status of women at the time. She is strong, mature, and independent and demonstrates those aspects of her character throughout the play. She is the general’s wife and is deserving of that. Desdemona’s character is a window to women today and can be used to show the change in the status of women through history. Women now our strong, opinionated, and independent like Desdemona.
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