Feminism has been one of the most important forces in shaping our modern-day society. Thanks to the women's rights movement, females today enjoy rights and freedoms that are unprecedented in the history of Western civilization. However, it was not always this way. Whereas modern literature that contains feminist messages barely gets a second thought, readers in our time are intrigued and impressed by feminist works coming from a decidedly male-biased past. Two of the greatest works of Western literature, Antigone and Othello, written by the two great dramatists Sophocles and Shakespeare, have been said to illustrate feminist ideals in the "distant" past. Antigone, which embodies these ideals throughout and is primarily concerned with the inequity of gender roles, is such a play. Othello, while it contains occasional feminist sentiment, still keeps its women in conventional female roles and thus is not a feminist work.
In order to determine if these plays are feminist, we first require a working definition of the term. This alone is rather complicated, because the word itself is popularly used and misused in many different ways. In its simplest form, feminist doctrine states that women and men are equal and deserve the same rights and privileges. This, although widely accepted in our time, was not in the past. However, feminism also has been seen as the belief that men are the inferior sex, a belief that might more accurately be termed "anti-masculinism". This belief has never been widely espoused in Western society, and probably never will be. It can also be said that "feminism" is any belief or idea that is meant to improve the well-being and social standing of females: for ex...
... middle of paper ...
...e does not, and this is seen clearly in the play. We are driven to sympathize with Antigone, and we see that she finds a way to be powerful that does not fit in with the classical male-driven power structure. She is also powerful in the structure of the play: she is its most well developed character and the play takes its title from her name. Finally, Sophocles shows us that feminism works, at least in Antigone's case: she gets what she wants. Unfortunately, this happens to be death, but her attempts at power still get her what she desires.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat, Paul Werstine. New York: Washington Square Press, 1993.
Sophocles. Antigone. The Theban Plays. Ed. and trans. E. F. Watling. London: Penguin Group, 1947: 126-162.
Watling, E. F. "Introduction." The Theban Plays. London: Penguin Group, 1947: 7-22.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The tragedies of Antigone and Othello were written with great depth and are structured in such a way that both characters are victims, in spite of their crimes. Antigone and Othello are tragedy plays created by using many techniques to create the feelings of fear and pity. There are differences and similarities in characters, action, and themes between Antigone and Othello. First, the major characters in both of the plays are suffering through great pain and end up with death. The drama Antigone which is written by Sophocles, tells the story of Antigone.... [tags: othello, antigone]
963 words (2.8 pages)
- Othello and Antigone are both tragic heroes. They do great deeds and have great power or strength. For example, Othello defeats Venice's enemies. Antigone makes sure that a Theban right is a Theban due. But fatal character flaws destroy the lives of the two heroes. Both of them suffer from pride and uncontrolled passion. Othello is so proud of his integrity and courage that he doesn't recognize his violent temper and his manipulability by Iago. Antigone is so proud of her commitment to the true, the right, the proper, and the correct that she doesn't respect differing, less passionate opinions.... [tags: Antigone, Othello, tragedy, Heroes,]
971 words (2.8 pages)
- Throughout Othello, the reader can find that the female characters are presented similarly to the expectations of Shakespearean Elizabethan society as well as the patriarchal Venetian society. Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca are the only three women in the play. This essay will focus on the feminist interpretation of Othello and how Othello provided an enabling outlet for feminist anger. Focusing closely on the representation and views of the female characters. During Shakespearean times a male’s perspective on a woman was in my opinion quite demeaning as females were expected to be much more passive than they are currently.... [tags: Woman, Othello, Iago, Gender, Female, Marriage]
904 words (2.6 pages)
- A woman who rebelled against a distinctively patriarchal, male-dominated Greek society. A woman who defied the orders of the King to follow her heart. A woman who acted in accordance with her sense of right and wrong. A woman with great reverence for relationships and an even greater allegiance towards family values. Such a woman deserves applause. A rebel. A legend. An example. A woman. Antigone. Sophocles’ Antigone has as its backdrop a very rigid and conservative Greek society and Greek culture when it was certainly against the norm of a typical ancient Greek woman to rebel against a male authority.... [tags: Antigone, Sophocles, feminism]
2093 words (6 pages)
- Violence in Shakespeare's Othello In William Shakespeare's Othello violence can be found in several different ways. Violence can be expressed physically, mentally, and verbally. This tragic play shows how jealousy and envy can overpower a person's mind and lead them to wreak havoc on others. Not only does this story give many different examples of violence, it displays how mental violence can promote physical violence, and continues on in that cycle. Mental promotes physical which ultimately leads back to mental.... [tags: Othello Shakespeare]
1336 words (3.8 pages)
- Othello and Desdemona In the play, The Tragedy of Othello, Shakespeare really tests our conception as to what love is, and where it can or can't exist. Judging from the relationship between Desdemona and Othello, the play seems to say that marriage based on an innocent romantic love or profane love is bound to fail. Shakespeare is pessimistic about the existence and survival of a true type of love. There is a common thread of betrayal and deceit among his female characters, especially. Othello and Desdemona, as portrayed in the play, are the two greatest innocents there ever were.... [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Othello]
1464 words (4.2 pages)
- Shakespeare has an exceptional ability to compose plays full of deceit, trickery, murderous revenge, and jealousy. In Othello, one of his most recognized tragedies was consistently evolving around the central theme of jealousy. Jealousy in Othello is what the play was founded on. One of Shakespeare's most credible characteristics in his writing is his ability to compose a play in which has a story that originates, and strides on lies. As theses lies were unraveled the central theme of his play became distinct, and clearly visible.... [tags: Othello Shakespeare]
1464 words (4.2 pages)
- Othello's Flaw in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Othello In Shakespeare?s play Othello, Othello himself is the tragic hero. He is an individual of high stature who is destroyed by his surroundings, his own actions, and his fate. His destruction is essentially precipitated by his own actions, as well as by the actions of the characters surrounding him. The tragedy of Othello is not a fault of a single person, but is rather the consequence of a wide range of feelings, judgments, misjudgments, and attempts for personal justification revealed by the characters.... [tags: Papers Shakespeare Othello]
809 words (2.3 pages)
- Contradictory Characterisations of Women in Shakespeare's Othello Othello opens with a discussion between two men concerning the fate of a very beautiful woman named Desdemona. One of the men is distraught, having tried to win her love but miserably failed, and the other agrees that she is quite a prize. A prize is not just a name for Desdemona, as her humanity is lost somewhere along the way and she ceases to be anything but a prize to be won. Both men are angry and want to seek revenge against the man who won her, slandering Desdemona’s name in the process.... [tags: Shakespeare Othello]
2731 words (7.8 pages)
- Jealousy in Othello The tragedy of Othello is the story of jealousy. It is Othello's public insecurity that makes him jealous of Cassio and allows him to believe that Cassio has slept with Desdemona. Also, it is Iago's jealousy of Othello that drives him to destroy both Othello and Desdemona. What is fascinating about Shakespeare's Othello is the way in which jealousy between the major characters is sexualized. Perhaps what makes Othello so disturbing is how quickly this sexualized jealousy turns into hate.... [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Othello]
647 words (1.8 pages)
- Feminism in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
- Essay on The Awakening as Romantic, Realistic, and Local Color Writing
- The Awakening: Romanticism, Realism, and Local Color
- Essay on Toni Morrison's Beloved - Character Naming
- Catcher in the Rye Essay: The Innocence of Holden
- Ideas of Progress in Naipaul's A Bend in the River