Strong Women of Shakespeare's Othello

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Strong Women of Othello

William Shakespeare often described the women in his plays as being strong, confident individuals, much different from the stereotypical roles of the time period in which he lived. In Much Ado about Nothing, the main character____(look up) ---{describe role}. Similarly, in Macbeth, {discuss role of Lady Macbeth} The women of Othello also displayed characteristics of strong, modern women. ....

From the beginning of the play, we see that Desdemona is a courageous and decisive woman who pursues Othello, falling in love with his intrigued stories of adventure, seeing "Othello's visage in his mind, and to his honors and valiant parts..." refusing the attempts of other suitors such as Roderigo. We become aware of Desdemona's determination when she marries Othello, despite accusations from Iago that she is under a spell and is deceiving her father. When her fiancé is accused of bewitching her, she immediately defends her love for him. "And so much Duty as my mother showed to you, preferring you before her father, so much that I may profess due to the Moor my lord". Like many of Shakespeare's other female characters, Desdemona does not embody the stereotypical role of sixteenth century women. When Shakespeare wrote Othello, women had few rights and little power in society. They had virtually no say in arranging their own marriages, and were expected to marry a suitor chosen by their father. Desdemona, however, despite proposals from various suitors and public discouragement, continues her pursuit of Othello, and marries him. Although she is "…bound [to her father] for life and education…" , she affirms her belief that she belongs with Othello, and has such great love for him, so much that "a heave interim shall support his absence" .

Soon after their elopement, envious Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him. Othello becomes enraged cursing Desdemona as a whore. When Othello questions her, we again see her strong sense of devotion, pleading for his trust rather than vehemently defending herself. "I hope my noble lord esteems me honest… Alas, what ignorant sin have I committed?" However, her faith in Othello is so strong that it undermines her "modern", prideful characteristics. Consequently, Desdemona is really not as strong and educated as originally perceived, for she continues to attempt to maintain Othello's trust, despite his incredibly harsh accusations. Although her arguments remain strong, the weakness in her character emerges, for she cannot see the monster that her husband is becoming, and failing to realize that he trusts Iago, a man who is extremely competitive with him, over his very wife's word.
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