The Strength of Women in Shakespeare's Othello

The Strength of Women in Shakespeare's Othello

Length: 1293 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Strength of Women in Shakespeare's Othello
In Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice, there are several strong, predominate female characters. Emilia, Desdemona, and Bianca have to defend themselves from the vicious men in the play. However, despite being victimized by the domineering men, their individual strengths set them apart from their abusers.
Emilia is a realistic woman. She does not always do what is right, but does things to make life easier for herself. When Emilia steals Desdemona’s handkerchief she says,
“To kiss and talk to. I’ll have the work ta’en out
And give’t Iago. What he will do with it
Heaven knows, not I;
I nothing but to please his.” (III.3.297-299)

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Strength of Women in Shakespeare's Othello." 123HelpMe.com. 25 Aug 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=162071>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Handkerchief of Love and Deception in Othello

- Othello and Desdemona started their life together thinking it was to be forever. The handkerchief symbolizes the start of a new generation, a token of their union and ultimately determines their fate and the main characters lives being changed by the events. The films adaption, as in Shakespeare play, he makes the handkerchief significant to the plot. Othello’s mother gave him the handkerchief on her dying bed to give to the women he marries. “She, dying, gave it me, and bid me, when my fate would have me wive; to give her.” Desdemona and Othello confess their love for one another in hopes of a blissful life together....   [tags: Othello]

Research Papers
1031 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Role of Women in Othello

- The Role of Women in Othello        If we are to assume, as Richard Levin speculates, that women were in the audiences of many Renaissance plays, it is then highly possible that feminine stage images were affected by their presence(165). Likewise, the issues represented by these images would have been constructed to take these women into account in order to satisfy them as paying customers. Levin offers only a "tentative hypothesis on the incorporation of feminine sentiment into Renaissance drama....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Othello]

Research Papers
1607 words (4.6 pages)

The Female Characters Of Shakespeare 's Othello Essay

- 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....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Marriage, Love]

Research Papers
1159 words (3.3 pages)

Free Othello Essays: Women as Victims in Othello

- Women as Victims in Othello Othello is a play that only contains three female characters. Their roles vary and it would be an exaggeration to categorize them all as victims. However, there are similarities between the three women. [1] The least involved woman in Othello is Bianca[2]. Her relationship with Cassio does not appear to be full of commitment.          "What keep a week away. Seven days and nights?"  It could be argued that Cassio used Bianca somewhat.[3] The manner in which he asks for a favor creates an impression that he is experienced at sweet-talking her....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Othello]

Free Essays
826 words (2.4 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Othello : Is It Always The Best Policy? Essay

- Honesty is Not Always the Best Policy Shakespeare’s works are often defined by the strong female characters he writes, and Othello is not exempt from this trend. While Desdemona is portrayed as a fairly submissive and blissfully ignorant character, her counter, Emilia, is a far more cynical and knowing woman. Though classified as a minor character, Emilia is a driving force to the plot and clearly displays the hardships of what it means to be a woman in her time. Though usually fiercely loyal to her mistress, Emilia’s one falter in loyalty ultimately causes Desdemona’s demise....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Woman, Wife]

Research Papers
787 words (2.2 pages)

Othello’s Desdemona: A Representation of Good Essay

- In sixteenth century literature, women rarely were given substantial roles. Often women were depicted as having great folly or the source of the main character’s downfall. Even in the twenty-first century, many critics still believe that Shakespeare’s Desdemona in Othello has no other purpose than to be a puppet in Iago’s diabolical plan. However, to draw such a conclusion would be a mistake. Shakespeare used Desdemona to personify a Christ-like figure, a representation of good in the battle of good versus evil, and an independent warrior to prove that she is a round character in Othello....   [tags: Othello Essays]

Research Papers
1142 words (3.3 pages)

Othello, The Moor Of Venice Essay

- Over the years, literature has brought people memorable villains in plays, moving pictures, and various novels. One character deserves to be ranked high in the category of greatest villains, but it is not the reason one would think. Iago, one of the popular characters in The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, had the ability to manipulate the other characters so well that it awed the audience and in the end deceived them too. An article in by Haim Omer and Marcello Da Verona they asked the question, “How could Iago, on the strength of words, suggestions, and innuendoes – without the slightest shred of concrete evidence – convince and change Othello so thoroughly that, in the course of a...   [tags: Othello, Iago, Desdemona, Brabantio]

Research Papers
810 words (2.3 pages)

The Character of Emilia in Othello Essay

- The Character of Emilia in Othello   The definition of Renaissance women is fundamentally important in William Shakespeare's play Othello. One of the major causes of Othello's tragedy is his belief that Desdemona is not chaste. According to the men of the Renaissance, chastity, silence, and obedience are three attributes that define Renaissance women. Although Othello takes place during the Renaissance, the women in the play, Bianca, Desdemona and Emilia, defy traditional norms by lacking at least one of the major attributes defining women; Bianca's lack of chastity is clearly displayed when she unlawfully sleeps with Cassio; Desdemona's lack of silence is clearly displayed when she cons...   [tags: Othello Essays]

Free Essays
627 words (1.8 pages)

Strong Women of Shakespeare's Othello Essay

- Strong Women of Othello   William Shakespeare often described the women in his plays as being strong, confident individuals, much different from the stereotypical roles of the time period in which he lived. In Much Ado about Nothing, the main character____(look up) ---{describe role}. Similarly, in Macbeth, {discuss role of Lady Macbeth} The women of Othello also displayed characteristics of strong, modern women. .... From the beginning of the play, we see that Desdemona is a courageous and decisive woman who pursues Othello, falling in love with his intrigued stories of adventure, seeing "Othello's visage in his mind, and to his honors and valiant parts..." refusing the attempts of othe...   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Free Essays
650 words (1.9 pages)

The Women of Shakespeare's Othello Essay

- The Women of Othello The women of Shakespeares Othello are put into stereotypical roles, but behind peoples backs play much stronger types. Desdemona, goes against her fathers orders and marries a moor. Bianca innocently takes part in Desdemona's death. Emilia has an opportunity to save Desdemona but sneakingly remains silent. These women are similar because they are treated like they are lower then the men in their days. But they do not let that hold them back. These women take part in anything that pleases them....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Free Essays
1083 words (3.1 pages)

Related Searches

Iago always wanted Emilia to steal the handkerchief from Desdemona, but Emilia did not have the heart to do it. However, she finally gives in and when the opportunity for her to pick the fallen handkerchief off of the ground arises, she takes it. Emilia loves Iago desperately and she is a good, loyal wife. She believes that if she pleases her husband, he will love her more. However, he just uses her. Emilia would even sleep with another man for the entire world so she could give it to her husband. She says, “Marry, I would not do such a thing for a joint ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty exhibition; but, for all the whole world – ’Ud’s pity! who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for’t” (IV.3.72-77). Emilia says how she would only commit adultery if she were given the world so Iago could rule it, not small little present.Yet, while she is trying to please her husband, she is also trying to please her mistress, Desdemona. Emilia is juggling these two characters but cannot always please both.
Throughout the play, the word ‘jealousy’ is used and Emilia has experience with jealousy. She says:
But jealous souls will not be answered so;
They are not ever jealous for the cause,
But jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself. (III.4.158-161)
Emilia learned of jealousy from Iago and when she makes the little speech about jealousy to Desdemona, she sounds like Iago. She derives some of the power in her words from the exact same things he has said to her. She talks about how jealousy is a monster and how it is almost impossible to get rid of. Emilia says that jealousy just keeps on building on itself and everything that is said contributes to its build up. She sums it up in saying that jealousy comes from an unnatural birth, which is a recurring theme throughout the book.
By the end of the play, Emilia has evolved into a different person. She discovers that Iago has caused the break down of Desdemona’s and Othello’s marriage along with the death of Desdemona. As a result of this, she is no longer afraid of standing up to her husband, and she does what is right; she explodes into a rage of truth, screaming everything that has been hidden. She yells:
O thou dull Moor, that handkerchief thou speak’st of
I found by fortune, and did give my husband;
For often with a solemn earnestness –
More than indeed belonged to such a trifle–
He begged of me to steal’t. (V.2.226-230)
Even after Iago threatened her with death, Emilia could not restrain herself from telling the truth. Iago finally managed to keep her quite by stabbing her in the back and forcing her to leave this world.
Desdemona is a young woman who has just been married. She does not have the experience that Emilia has in dealing with marital problems and worldly matters because of her young age. Unlike Emilia, Desdemona is not out to make life easier for herself, but she aims to simplify the lives of all the people around her. When Othello fires Cassio, she tells him:
My lord shall never rest;
I’ll watch him tame and talk him out of patience;
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I’ll intermingle everything he does
With Cassio’s suit. Therefore be marry, Cassio,
For thy solicitor shall rather die
Than give thy cause away. (III.3.22-28)
She tells him that everything Othello does, she will in some way, shape, or form, intermingle Cassio’s name into it. Desdemona tells Cassio that she will bother Othello until he goes crazy and is forced to forgive Cassio. She also says she would rather die than give up Cassio’s suit. In a way, her kindness leads to her death. Her extreme passion in helping Cassio causes her to annoy Othello by asking him to talk with Cassio. She says,
DESDEMONA. When shall he come?
Tell me, Othello. I wonder in my soul
What you would ask that I should deny
Or stand so mamm’ring on. What? Michael Cassio,
That came a-wooing with you, and so many a time,
When I have spoke of you dispraisingly,
Hath ta’en your part – to have so much to do
To bring him in? By’r Lady, I could do much –
OTHELLO. Prithee no more. Let him come when he will!
I will deny thee nothing. (CITATION NEEDED) (III.3.68-76)
This upsets Othello because he has just married Desdemona. She should be talking about him, but she is talking about Cassio. Desdemona taking Cassio’s defense only makes her look guilty to Othello and also adds to Othello’s growing instability and paranoia that leads him to his breaking point. Also, Iago takes Desdemona’s kindness and corrupts it. He gets Othello to think that Desdemona is cheating with Cassio. This causes Othello to go mad and to kill the person he loves most in all the world, his innocent wife, Desdemona.
Bianca is a courtesan. She is a woman that Cassio goes to and spends his free time with while in Cyprus. No one considers her a person because of her profession, which was looked down upon by many in the upper classes.
IAGO. Now, if this suit lay in Bianca’s power,
How quickly should you speed!
CASSIO. Alas, poor caitiff! (IV.1.107-108)
Bianca loves Cassio. Iago even says, “I never knew a woman love man so” (IV.1.110). However, Cassio does not love her and does not consider her as someone that is eligible to be married to. When Iago asks Cassio if he will marry her, Cassio says, “I marry? What, a customer? Prithee bear some charity to my wit; do not think it unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha!” (IV.1.118-121). Cassio cannot even stand the idea of marrying Bianca. Every time he hears her name, he cannot resist from laughing and making a joke on her expense.
Iago also manages to use Bianca in his evil scheme. He gets Cassio to talk about Bianca while Othello is hiding. Since Othello cannot hear everything, he mistakenly thinks Cassio is talking about Desdemona.
IAGO. I never knew a woman love man so.
CASSIO. Alas, poor rogue! I think , i’ faith, she loves me.
OTHELLO. Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it out. (IV.1.110-112)
This only contributes to Othello’s jealousy, which is exactly what Iago wants. Through Othello’s jealousy, Iago is able to bring everyone around him down.
It takes a strong woman to be able to stand up to men who are always putting them down.
All three of these women, Emilia, Desdemona, and Bianca, managed to stand up to their abusers. (Need more in conclusion, at least 3 or 4 more sentences)
Return to 123HelpMe.com