Gender Bias in Othello Shakespeare’s tragic play Othello is an unfortunate example of gender bias, of sexism which takes advantage of women. The three women characters in the drama are all, in their own ways, victims of men’s skewed attitudes regarding women. Let us delve into this topic in this essay. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine comment in the Introduction to Shakespeare: Othello that sexism is a big factor in the play: At this point in our civilization the play’s fascination and its horror may be greater than ever before because we have been made so very sensitive to the issues of race, class, and gender that are woven into the texture of Othello. [.
His insufficiency is more surprising because elsewhere in the play Iago appears as a master rhetorician, but as Bloch explains, ‘the misogynistic writer uses rhetoric as a means of renouncing it, and, by extension, woman.’ (163) 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... ... middle of paper ... ...reason to the same extent, or even greater than, men; and that men are passion-driven moreso than are women.
The Norton Shakespeare Based on the Oxford Edition. Gen. Ed. Stephen and Ed. Walter Cohen, Jean Howard, and Katherine Maus. New York: Norton & Company, 1997.
Iago fans to flames the coals of socially induced unease in Othello, fantasizes on his own about being cuckolded by Othello and Cassio. In an ideology that can value only cloistered, desireless women, any woman who departs from this passivity will cause intense anxiety. (295) Can the sexism within this play be regarded as insignificant, or is that trivializing something important? Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine comment in the Introduction to Shakespeare: Othello that sexism is a big factor in the play: At this point in our civilization the play’s fascination and its horror may be greater than ever before because we have been made so very sensitive to the issues of race, class, and gender that are woven into the texture of Othello. [.
Also, was Shakespeare influenced by the women in the Elizabethan Age and if so, did he foreshadow the rise of women? Shakespeare incorporated and focused on women who fit the traditional gender role in society and women who opposed their role in a patriarchal society. Women in the Early Modern Elizabethan Age we... ... middle of paper ... ...rce: Estranging the Renaissance. Ed. Marjorie Garber.
Much of the literature composed in Elizabethan England reflects, whether deliberately or inadvertently, the gender inequities cited by Callaghan, Novy, and others. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the dynamics of the marriage between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth involve a mutual striving towards manhood as a result of misplaced gender traits in each. Shakespeare develops the androgyny of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and this becomes the basis for the offenses they commit in the play. Both characters achieve a position of power and authority through the use of their masculine characteristics, but their feminine characteristics make their gains tenuous and ultimataly cause their downfall. Throughout the play Shakespeare presents the feminine traits within Macbeth as the characteristics that mark him as a flawed man.
During Shakespeare's time, thoughts of women bordered on weak and deceitful images, leading to the idea of frail, yet conniving creatures. In Hamlet, the character Ophelia uses her sexual prowess as a source of power when dealing with the opposite sex. As she weaves her way through the background of the play, she affects the men greatly to become a main focus when critiquing the literary work. Interpretations of Ophelia vary based on the experts' view of sexual importance. The influence she has over Hamlet's emotions and desires affects the outcome of their faltering relationship and Hamlet's sanity.
Women in the Plays of Shakespeare By paying close attention to the woman's part in Shakespeare's plays, we can see his works with a new perspective. But we must remember that we are examining a male dramatist of extraordinary range writing in a remote period when women's position was in obvious ways more restricted and less disputed than in our own period. Sandra Gilbert writes in The Madwoman in the Attic that literature is defined as a mirror held up to society and nature, "the mimetic aesthetic that begins with Aristotle and descends through Shakespeare implies that the poet, like a lesser God, has made or engendered an alternative, mirror-universe in which he actually seems to enclose or trap shadows of reality" (Madwoman 5). While some artists do not necessarily duplicate in their art the "realities" of their culture, they may exploit them to create character or intensify conflict, or struggle with, criticize, or transcend them. Shakespeare, it would seem, "encompasses more and preaches less than most authors, hence the centuries-old controversy over his religious affiliation, political views, and sexual preferences" (Lenz 4).
In their article and revisions, “Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism,” from Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, edited by Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman, the authors, being feminist critics, defend Ophelia and criticize the way she is treated and undermined as a minor character. The role of Ophelia in the play Hamlet is underappreciated and over criticized due to her developed psychosis following her rejection by Hamlet. However, Ophelia’s role is more than just a sexual arousal for Hamlet and psychosis for psychiatrist and specifically male critics to examine. Scholars and critics throughout history have turned Ophelia into “an insignificant minor character” (Elaine Showalter). She lives in the shadow of Hamlet.
"Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging." Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.