Othello: Discrimination Against Women

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Othello: the Discrimination Against Women Yes, even in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello there is considerable sexism. Let us root out and analyze instances of obvious sexism in this play. Even the noble general yielded to the sexist remarks and insinuations of his ancient, thus developing a reprehensible attitude toward his lovely and faithful wife. Angela Pitt in “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies” comments on the Moor’s sexist treatment of Desdemona: Desdemona has, therefore, some quite serious faults as a wife, including a will of her own, which was evident even before she was married. This does not mean that she merits the terrible accusations flung at her by Othello, nor does she in any way deserve her death, but she is partly responsible for the tragic action of the play. Othello’s behavior and mounting jealousy are made more comprehensible if we remember what Elizabethan husbands might expect of their wives. (45) In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his hatred for the general Othello for his selection of Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello: “Call up her father, / Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight [. . .] .” Implied in this move is the fact of a father’s assumed control over the daughter’s choice of a marriage partner. Iago’s warning to the senator follows closely: “'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown; / Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul.” This statement also implies that the father has authority over the daught... ... middle of paper ... ...ilia’s stunning interrogation and conviction of her own husband as the evil mastermind behind the murder reverses the sexist image of women underlying the play. Her performance proves that women are guided by reason to the same extent, or even greater than, men; and that men are passion-driven moreso than are women. The tables are turned on sexism at the very climax of the drama! WORKS CITED Jorgensen, Paul A. William Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985. Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981. Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.
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