The Role Of Women In Shakespeare's Othello

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According to Elizabethan or Shakespeare 's society built upon Renaissance beliefs, it was believed that women do not speak, they do not have a voice because they are taught to respect the beliefs of society more than themselves. Patriarchal rule proved women 's subordination as the natural order because women were thought to be inferior to men in the Elizabethan society. In Shakespeare’s Othello this belief is represented through the three female characters in this play, Othello’s wife Desdemona, Iago’s wife Emilia and Cassio’s mistress Bianca. These women are objectified by the central male characters in Othello. Shakespeare’s anti – feminism is being reflected through the role of women and how they are portrayed in the play.

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Othello does not see the intellectual and independent Desdemona; he thinks she is an object of sex and he wants her. Othello argues that he would have been happier “if the general camp, /Pioneers and all, had tasted her sweet body, /So I had nothing known” (3.3.342-4). He appears to be obsessed with Desdemona’s sexuality and jealousy stems from viewing her sexuality. Also, Iago only uses Emilia for sex and he does not love her at all. When Emilia reveals Iago’s true identity, Iago takes out his anger on Emilia, labelling her a “villainous whore” (5.2.227). He would not use such words if he truly loved Emilia. Iago has a very filthy point of view on women. In Cyprus he says “You rise to play and go to bed to work.” (2.1.115) He believes women are only good in bed and he strongly believes this for his wife and for women in general. Thus, Iago does not love or respect Emilia and he only uses her for sex and to get Desdemona’s handkerchief, which helps with the success of his plan. Similarly Iago describes Bianca as a “housewife” (4.1.95) and “strumpet” (4.1.97). Implying that Bianca is a prostitute. She is used by Cassio and other men for sexual pleasure. Upon being questioned about marriage Cassio says “I marry her! What? … Do not think it so unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha!” (4.1.118-119) Cassio laughs at Iago’s idea of him marrying Bianca. Cassio does not take Bianca seriously, he does not think she is worthy of marriage. Cassio does not love Bianca at all, he is just using her for his pleasure, whereas Bianca is looking for true love. Therefore, all three women of the play Othello are objects of sexual desires of men and are often
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