Defending a Man's Honor

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Defending a Man's Honor

The main male characters in Shakespeare's play Othello kill their wives in order to defend their own honor. In the period setting of the play, to show honor, women are expected to be subservient to their husbands. The characters Iago and Othello reflect this attitude toward their respective wives, giving them reason to feel just in killing these women. Iago kills Emilia because she dishonors him by revealing his manipulation of Othello and Cassio. Othello strangles Desdemona because of imagined infidelity, which makes him look like a fool. Both men have different ideas of honor, perceive their own honorable status differently, have different relationships with their wives, and different feelings of remorse. Ultimately they both kill their wives to defend their own honor. Proud, noble, and brave warrior Othello is well respected and his military skills and adventures are widely known. He is charismatic, charming, self-reliant and well traveled. These personality traits made Desdemona fall in love with him, and by these, he measures his honorability. His measures his self-worth by the way he is perceived by others. That is the main reason why he perceives Desdemona's alleged infidelity as ruining his honor. It makes him look like a fool and he feels that he has been taken advantage of because he is unwise and unfamiliar with the devious sexual practices of Venice women. Othello is also very trusting. Of course, the question is why he believes Iago and doubts his wife. He believes "honest Iago" without question because Iago had served in the army with him and is generally regarded by all to be an honest man. The feelings of being an outsider and insecure in his social status are Othello's character flaws and Iago to takes advantage of these Achilles heals. For Iago, deception, manipulating, and killing are second nature. It doesn't occur to him that he will be caught and he doesn't have any conscience about what he has...
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