Examining Othello and Desdemonda, An Interracial Marriage

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Centuries ago in Elizabethan England there were many traditions about marriage and the treatment of women. In Shakespeare's Othello these traditions can be used to examine the play in a historical context. One strong tradition of these times was the practice of marriage between races. Interracial marriages were considered extremely taboo. (High Beam). In this era marriages were arranged by the parents with strong help from the local church. The individuals had little choice as to who they would marry. (Elizabethan England Life). Yet another example of these traditions was the respectable treatment of women. While the husband was in charge of his wife, as was the father, the husband were expected to treat the women right (Elizbethi). In spurning these traditions, Shakespeare demonstrates there may be problems with how the traditions of marriage and the treatment of women in Elizabethan England.

One of the sharpest contrasts of Othello and Elizabethan English tradition was Desdemona and Othello's marriage was not prearranged. In Elizabethan England a woman had no control of who she would marry. Her father would make the decision with help from the local church. (Will Shakes) Since Barbanzio was a wealthy, influential man he would have most likely set Desdemona up with a wealthy man, young white man, which in reading Othello we see he tried to do this. Yet Desdemona would not marry any of the many young, white men her father had chosen for her. Instead she decided she would marry Othello, the famous black, Arab general much to her father’s fury. It was suggested by Iago that this was robbery as Iago saw Desdemona as Barbanzio's property. Barbanzio thought Othello may have cast a spell on Desdemona, doubting his daughter would run o...

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...o Desdemona represents innocence and purity. Shakespeare shows how this innocence and purity can be destroyed be the wrongful actions and judgments of the world.

From reading Othello one can tell Shakespeare did not agree with all of the customs of his day. It can be seen that Shakespeare thought interracial marriages were not a bad thing. Also it can be seen Shakespeare felt that a woman should be treated right and not abused. Next, we see Shakespeare was against the arranged marriages of his time. He believed that love should decide whom you should marry not who your parents want for you. As one can see many of these ideas have stuck with us. Today interracial marriages are not uncommon. Also there is no longer arranged marriages and women can decide whom they want to marry. Finally, today there are many facilities to assist women who are abused by their husbands.

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