Shakespeare has written some of the most outstanding pieces of literature through out history that have lasted through out the ages. But, critics often critique Shakespeare as being sexist towards women in his work. He often portrays them as weak minded, evil, or as sexual objects. Ophelia, Queen Gertrude, Lady Macbeth, and Juliet Capulet are just a few female heroines that are accused of being feeble or heinous. Shakespeares Othello represents Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca as weak characters that do not become triumphant by the end of the play. While they have ardous intentions, none of them ever defend themselves. Desdemona is a passive victim who lets Othello abuse her, Emilia allows herself to be abused by Iago, and Bianca lets Cassio take
Desdemona demonstrates weakness in her love for Othello and by taking his abuse. At the beginning of the play, Desdemona feels she must accompany Othello to Cyprus in war. This can be looked at as her being a strong woman, but she truly is not since the real reason she wants to go is because she can not be seperated from Othello. "If I be left behind A moth of peace and he go to the war, The rites for which I love him are bereft me,And I a heavy interim shall support by his dear absence. Let me go with him." (Act 1, scene 3, line 250) She feels that she loves him so much, she can not be alone or without him. This is a trait of the stereotypical damsel. When Othello hits her in public, she does not get angry with him but begins to cry. " 'Tis very much.Make her amends, she
While she does have good intentions through out parts of the play and is a kind hearted woman, she never defends herself to her diabolical husband. Iago constantly makes hateful and degrading insults towards Emilia. "Come on, come on. You are pictures out of door, bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries, devils being offended, players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds." (Act 2 scene 1 line 119) Not once does she ever defend herself. In fact, she is nothing but eager to please her husband to win his affection. "I nothing but to please his fantasy" (Act 3 scene 3 Line 343) She betrays her friendship with by stealing her handkerchief and gives it to Iago hoping to satisfy him. This utterly fails leaving Emilia with the desire to continue to try to please him. "Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for 't" (Act 4, Scene 3, line 85) She is a representation of an abused woman who does not have enough self respect to defend herself. It is evident she makes herself a slave to Iago by consistently trying to make him happy despite his malevolent behaviour. Emilias lack of self confidence and passiveness proves that the women in Othello are powerless and
Desdemona and Emilia were labeled as “property” towards the men in Othello. In Othello, Desdemona was treated as a piece of property during the Brabantio-Othello dispute. Brabantio angrily confronts Othello accusing him of blackmailing his daughter Desdemona into marriage. Brabantio states, “O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd my daughter?” (1.2.64-65). Brabantio refers to Othello as a “foul thief” taking his possession and authority of his daughter from him. Desdemona further is depicted as a token of exchange by Othello’s romantic words. Othello comments, “Come, my dear love/The purchase made/ the fruits are to ensue/ that profit’s yet to come ’tween me and you.” (2.3.10-11). Othello declares that the marriage was in fact an investment and a favor for Desdemona, concluding she’s has to satisfy her husband’s fancy. Emilia is portrayed as Iago’s possession within the play. Iago is a vindictive character that has no remorse for women, especially his wife. Iago is angered, accusing Othello of the following convictions: passing him on a lieutenant position, giving it to someone unworthy and his suspicion of possible adultery between Othello and his wife, Emilia. Iago calls out Othello for supposedly sleeping with his own possession. “And it is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets/ He’s done my office” (1.3.324-325). Iago metaphorically describes Emilia as
In Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice, there are several strong, predominate female characters. Emilia, Desdemona, and Bianca have to defend themselves from the vicious men in the play. However, despite being victimized by the domineering men, their individual strengths set them apart from their abusers.
From this point on, Othello insecurity manifests into a seemingly irrational fear of being cuckolded, and his self-perceived worth diminishes exponentially. Othello comments on the likelihood of Desdemona cheating, by explaining how it may be “for [he is] black / And have not those soft parts of conversation / That chamberers have…” (3.3.280-282) Othello’s frustration with the threat of being cuckolded puts strain on his relationship with Desdemona, and she quickly becomes a victim of domestic abuse. For example, Othello acts as an interrogator, demanding to see the handkerchief which he gave her that symbolizes faithfulness and commitment towards Othello. (Quotation) When she is unable to produce their symbol of trust, Othello’s anger manifests inside him. The audience is shown a stark contrast to Othello’s typically cool, collected and composted nature. This abrupt and irrational change in behaviour is emphasized when Othello strikes Desdemona in front of Lordovico, (4.1.245) Othello’s
While there have been a great number of changes in the world since Shakespeare wrote Othello, there are a few truths about humanity and society that remain true. Othello is notorious for it’s examination of race, but is not given enough credit for its observations of gender. Iago embodies masculine gender roles in a severe and exaggerated way, allowing his desire for proving his masculinity to corrupt him morally. Iago then turns and uses his own fears of inadequacy against Othello as the root of his revenge and to improve his own self-image. Desdemona is hurt most by the need for gender roles, which ultimately ends up in her death. The characters in Othello are severely harmed by the gender roles they feel the need to adhere to.
Othello serves as an example to demonstrate the expectations of an Elizabethan society, the practice of privileges in patriarchal marriages and the suppression and restriction of femininity. According to Elizabethan beliefs, women were vassals for both marriage and breeding, seen as passive subordinates in comparison to the patriarchy of male domination. Patriarchal rule justified women’s subordination as the natural order, because women were thought to be psychologically and physiologically inferior to men In terms of Othello, representations of women clearly conform to the expectations of an Elizabethan society. For instance there are three female characters in Othello: Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca, with each of these characters behaving and conducting themselves in ways that are linked to the ideological expectations of men. This is demonstrated through the character of Desdemona who as Othello’s wife is the embodiment of passitivity and vulnerability. This is illustrated through her submissive nature, which represents her as passive throughout, regardless of whether she has done wrong or not. For example her use of language defines her passive nature, where she states ‘ I am obedient’, reflecting her subservience to masculine rule ( act 3 scene 3 p.g. 89). Alternatively it could be argued that the use of the pronoun ‘I’ is authorative suggesting that the sentence has a double meaning ; she is obedient yet an individual in her own right. It infers that although she does fit the stereotypical convention of a passive female, she will also stand up for herself when it matters. However a critique of this viewpoint is that throughout she continues to conform to masculine rule and is faithful, even when she is being victimized...
Statement of intent: The role of women in William Shakespeare’s play Othello is portrayed through the behaviors and actions of Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca. William Shakespeare integrates his Elizabethan society to create the patriarchal Venetian society in the play. Women in his society were seen as inferior to the men. The three women play a significant role in different social stratification. How are women submissive, possessions, bold, and degraded to sex objects and whores? How have they displayed unconventional acts and boldness?
In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Othello there are numerous instances of obvious sexism aimed at the three women in the drama -- Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca – and aimed at womankind generally. Let us delve into this subject in this paper.
Masculinity and the male-dominated Venetian society play a major role in Othello's jealousy. During the sixteenth century, men typically ruled society, especially in Italy. Women were typically submissive. Desdemona and Emilia, the two main women in the play, are both benevolent figures. Desdemona must deal with Othello's jealousy and Emilia must deal with Iago and all of his hatred. The gender roles can be clearly noticed during the interactions between Desdemona and her father and between her and Othello. Desdemona is berated for going behind her father's back and marrying her love. She is scolded and branded as a whore by Othello despite doing anything wrong. This culture creates social tensions that "produce the masculine subject"
Emilia is not necessarily naïve nor is she stretching her reach often. She shows respect to her husband Iago despite disagreeing with him “Emilia steals the handkerchief for the sake of Iago’s “fantasy” (III.iii.303) and assures the success of his plot.” (140). She is loyal and kind to her lady Desdemona and gracefully takes on situations. Still Emilia is prudent “She rejects identification with Bianca yet sympathizes with female promiscuity. She corrects Desdemona’s occasional naivety but defends her chastity.” (Neely.140) Bianca so there is clear understanding why Emilia does not associate with her. Still Emilia shows empathy to the lady’s situation she does not turn a blind eye and snub her. With Desdemona, she is quick to offer advice and encourage right actions. She shows toleration and kindness to both ladies, even with the men she has a measured reaction for most of the play. Emilia isn’t blind to the situations facing both the girls still “Although she comprehends male jealousy and espouses sexual equality, she seems remarkably free of jealousy herself.” (Neely.
First, in order to defend Desdemona's chastity, Emilia challenges the societal norm of silence. Recall the incident when Othello calls Desdemona a "whore" for cheating. In response, Emilia protests loudly against Othello and attempts to disprove his belief that Desdemona is not chaste: "A halter pardon him [Othello]! And hell gnaw his bones! / Why should he call her [Desdemona] whore? (4.2. 143,144). Instead of Emilia conforming to the attribute of Renaissance women as silent, she condemns Othello for his false accusations against her mistress, Desdemona. Later in the play, after finding Desdemona killed, Emilia challenges silence again: "As ignorant as dirt! Thou hast done a deed-... / The Moor hath killed my mistress!" (5.2. 171,174). Although Othello tells Emilia that it would be "best" for her to remain silent, she ignores his request and ridicules him for killing "sweet" Desdemona (5.2. 169).
In Shakespeare’s play Othello, the male characters perceive women as adulterous and property, treating them as inferior that need to be submissive and obey. Iago creates a false perception of his wife thinking she is promiscuous. Also, Othello sees his wife as promiscuous, an impression created by his jealousy and one he has convinced himself of it. Furthermore, Iago and Othello perceive their wives as inferior, and by his words, the reader can see that they are both their wife and subordinate. At last, the male characters refer to Desdemona’s marriage as a “steal” and “purchase” of property, then, Iago and Othello end their wives’ lives because they see them as possessions of no good.
...of Elizabethan England and put women in their place. Men view women as possessions, who are to remain obedient and submissive all the time. The only power over men women have is their sexuality, which is seen as evil and is to be resisted my men. Men are free to call women whores and accuse them of lewd acts with no substantial evidence. However there is a suggestion that women are starting to question the male authority society has set, this is evident when Desdemona is conversing with Emilia: 'Nay, we must think men are not gods" (III.4.144). This suggests that Desdemona had viewed men as god like in the past, but perhaps her experiences with Othello have changed her mind. The language and actions of the three women in Othello, while they seem to follow the expectations and standards of society, also seems to take a big step towards a more egalitarian society.
By constantly degrading and disrespecting her, Emilia grows to become bitter towards the idea of marriage and men in general. However, Emilia also understands her role as a wife and how she should behave as such. Though Iago appears to have little respect for her, Emilia still holds a certain amount of respect for her husband. Though she does not outright praise Iago, she also does not speak any ill-words of him until the very end of the play when his true character is revealed. She portrays him to be empathetic, such as when she and Desdemona are Cassio’s demotion and says that, “it grieves my husband/ As if the cause were his” (Shakespeare 3.3.3-4). Emilia contributes to Iago’s reputation as a good man by never denying it or disputing it. In her unwavering loyalty to not only Desdemona, but also to Iago, she drives the main conflict of the play. In her time period, Emilia must satisfy her husband’s need, whatever it may be. When Iago implores Emilia to steal away the handkerchief, an object she knows will spark conflict, she does so anyway in order to appease her husband. Emilia even confesses to not knowing her husband’s plan, saying, “What he
The play Othello is presented as a male-dominated society where women are only recognized as property; objects to own and to bear children. Women in the Elizabethan society and in Shakespeare society were not seen as equal to men and were expected to be loyal to their husbands, be respectful, and to not go against their husbands judgements or actions. Shakespeare presents Desdemona, Emilia , and Bianca as women in the Elizabethan time where they were judged based on their class, mortality, and intelligence. Shakespeare makes his female characters act the way they would be expected to act in an Elizabethan society. The role of these women in Othello is crucial because they show how women were treated and how unhealthy their relationships between men really were in both Elizabethan and Shakespeare's society.