Role of Women in Othello Essay

Role of Women in Othello Essay

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Role of Women in Othello  

 
    In William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello, the wife of the protagonist, Desdemona, is the main female character. Secondly, there is the ancient’s wife, Emilia, who is morally ambivalent. Thirdly, there is the girlfriend of Michael Cassio, Bianca, who makes her appearance later in the drama. This essay will analyze the roles of these three women.

 

At the outset of the play Iago persuades the rejected suitor of Desdemona, Roderigo, to accompany him to the home of Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, in the middle of the night. Once there the two awaken the senator with loud shouts about his daughter’s elopement with Othello. This is the initial reference to the role of women in the play – the role of wife. In response to the noise and Iago’s vulgar descriptions of Desdemona’s involvement with the general, Brabantio arises from bed. Iago’s bawdy references to the senator’s daughter present a second role of women – that of illicit lover. With Roderigo’s help, he gathers a search party to go and find Desdemona and bring her home. The father’s attitude is that life without his Desdemona will be much worse than before:

 

It is too true an evil: gone she is;

     And what's to come of my despised time

     Is nought but bitterness. (1.1)

 

Here is seen another role or function of women in the drama – that of comforter for the aged. Brabantio is the old father, and he hates to lose the comforting services of his Desdemona. The daughter’s husband Othello expresses his sentiments to Iago regarding his relationship with the senator’s daughter, saying

 

that I love the gentle Desdemona,

     I would not my unhoused free condition

     Put into circumscriptio...


... middle of paper ...


...y true!” and accuses him of lying:

 

     You told a lie, an odious, damned lie;

     Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie.

     She false with Cassio! (5.2)

 

Then she accuses him of causing murder: “And your reports have set the murder on.” Emilia’s stunning interrogation and conviction of her own husband as the evil mastermind behind the crime results in Iago’s killing her. Despondent Othello, grief-stricken by remorse for the tragic mistake he has made, stabs himself and dies on the bed next to his wife.

 

Thus it is seen that the roles of women are many and varied – and are key to the successful development of the story.

 

WORKS CITED

 

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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