Othello and His Masculinity

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‘Be a man’, how are ideas of masculinity presented in Othello.

Othello is set during the Elizabethan era, where men were considered to be the leaders and women their inferiors. Women were often regarded as the ‘weaker sex’. This patriarchal society and theme of male superiority is portrayed throughout the play. These themes are depicted through the relationships between the characters. Brabantio and Desdemona’s relationship shows how he believed the traditional Elizabethan view, that men were to control and dominate their wife’s or daughters. He is furious at Othello for stealing his daughter from him. Also, Othello’s masculinity is destroyed through the poisoning of his mind against Desdemona, his wife. Iago also treats his wife Emilia and Desdemona as objects which he uses for his own pleasure and part of his manipulative plan to destroy Othello. In addition, the idea that the occupation of the male characters define their masculinity and shows us that people higher up in the patriarchal society such as Brabantio, who is the Venetian senator, uses their class in society to show that they are more powerful and strong. Therefore, this essay will explore the ideas of masculinity and the undermining of masculinity.

Othello, a brave, honourable, “valiant” and respected man, is an impressive army commander, whose masculinity and persona is brought to a destructive end. Iago, his so called “honourable” ensign, undermines Othello’s masculinity by poisoning and manipulating his mind into believing his beloved wife Desdemona had committed adulterous acts with his lieutenant; Michael Cassio, therefore leading him murder his innocent wife. The idea of his wife committing such acts repulses and humiliates Othello. It shatters his role as army general. Othello’s revenge partly comes from fact that he needs to recover his reputation and regain the respect deserves. Also, to show that he is still a strong and valiant hero whose pride will not be brought down by any...
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