Misogynistic Characters In Othello By William Shakespeare

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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…show more content…
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. For having been submissive. In making a decision of her own and, more importantly, in going against his wishes, Brabantio asserts that his daughter has now effectively transpired “Against all rules of nature” (Othello 1.3.101). It is thus relatively easy to understand why Bianca, who is shown using her sexuality to carve out a place for herself in Cypriot society, is constantly denigrated by the other characters. Their beliefs cause them to see her as an entirely unholy, unnatural…show more content…
He first uses her as a pawn in his machinations against Cassio and Othello and then, in the final act, uses her as a scapegoat, directing the blame for Roderigo’s murder away from himself by casting it upon her. In having her stand beside Iago both literally and figuratively, Shakespeare emphasizes Bianca’s unaffected innocence; after all, although Iago fancies himself “Honest” (Othello 1.3.294), the audience sees him for what he truly is: a most malevolent character. It is perhaps also worth mentioning here as an aside that the name Iago is derived from the name Jacob, which belongs to a Biblical figure also known as “the supplanter,” whilst the name Bianca means “white,” a color traditionally associated with purity and innocence. In allowing her to protest her innocence vis-à-vis that last rebuttal to Emilia in which she avows that she is “honest” – mirroring Iago once again – before having her exit the scene with Iago never to be seen again, Shakespeare also creates a haunting image of Bianca as a martyr. He both showcases the notion that what Bianca has suffered is an injustice and suggests, accordingly, that when any woman is condemned and deceived by cruel men, she has suffered injustice. Bianca’s treatment at the hands of the other characters in Othello mimics the titular character’s own struggles with being “Other”-ized; only, in Bianca’s case, what separates

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