Feminine Roles in Othello Essay examples

Feminine Roles in Othello Essay examples

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Feminine Roles in Othello  

 
   A variety of roles have women in them in William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello. Let us in this essay examine the female characters and their roles.

 

One key role for the heroine of the drama, Desdemona, is to support the general. David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies states the hero’s dependence on Desdemona:

 

Othello’s most tortured speeches (3.4.57-77, 4.2.49-66) reveal the extent to which he equates the seemingly betraying woman he has so depended on for happiness with his own mother, who gave Othello’s father a handkerchief and threatened him with loss of her love if he should lose it. (226)

 

A different role for the heroine appears at the beginning 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 young wife. Iago’s bawdy references to the senator’s daughter present a second role of women – that of illicit lover. The father’s attitude is that life without his Desdemona will be much worse than before; without her he foresees “nought but bitterness.” 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.

 

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 c...


... middle of paper ...


...emona’s falseness. Emilia at this point becomes a beacon of light and truth; she contradicts Iago: “Thou art rash as fire, to say / That she was false: O, she was heavenly true!” and accuses him of lying and of causing murder: “And your reports have set the murder on.” Emilia’s stunning interrogation and conviction of her own husband cost her dearly; she is thus absolved from her earlier collaboration with Iago and ends on a note of innocence.

 

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

 

Bevington, David, ed. William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies. New York: Bantam Books, 1980.

 

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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