Othello - Language and Ideology

Topics: Othello, Iago, William Shakespeare Pages: 5 (1287 words) Published: November 10, 2012
Works of literature can be read as presenting challenges or endorsements of particular value systems. Discuss with reference to one or more works you have studied.

With reference to Othello


Value systems
Gender in society - female value
Racism (animalisation)
Value on appearance and reputation
Emphasis on language
Heaven vs hell (religious imagery)
Exotic/supernatural imagery

Feminine and masculine ideology
Femininity weakened by affectations of beauty
Contrast between slap from Othello to shock of Lodovico
civil society’s opinion is one of shock but normally women are “owned” and have to have “duty” to someone - so is this punishment of “divided duty”? Desdemona must owe her duty somewhere - chooses to have “divided duty” Naturalised that women should be “owned” by someone

“That we can call these delicate creatures ours and not their apetites!” (III.iii.266) women can be owned but not controlled
Naturalised that women should be inferior to men - so women are weakened and stamped on in their emotions (such as jealousy and intrigue) Bianca’s jealousy in stark contrast to Othello - Cassio downplays and destroys Bianca’s and doesn’t even listen, Othello believes the world is about to end Desdemona’s intrigue in what is happening down below when told to go back to bed Desdemona forced to dismiss Emilia as this is Othello’s will - “I will do your bidding” Emilia told not to meddle with men’s affairs - “You are a fool, go to” Desdemona’s downfall occurs after she meddles with men’s affairs in reinstatement of Cassio - “My lord shall never rest” All females are representative of relationship that is naturalised in the text Men have power over women, explores subjugation of women

Idea is challenged ultimately by
Emilia’s death and tragedy of Emilia’s character as she only gains the power of speech in death and ability to have an opinion when pulling away from and being disloyal to her husband, Iago Desdemona’s death due to her inability to defend herself despite speaking the truth Emilia not believed by Othello - “simple whore”, must be clever lie, not truthful The idea that if women are adulterers they must die is challenged introduced with picture of powerful womanhood: Desdemona betraying her father and creating new allegiance to different male, simultaneously undermined through having to “owe obedience” Power struggles between couples and friends

Misogynistic attitudes (strongly enforced by Iago) - makes relationships difficult Question of love between Iago and Desdemona 
Emilia and Bianca
Iago and Roderigo
Iago and Cassio
Cassio and Othello
Othello and Iago
Iago and Desdemona Initially Desdemona and Othello are isolated because they have an equal relationship - no disillusionment or dissatisfaction - but are then reduced with play’s progression Naturalised that power struggles exist between people

Not endorsed
Supported but not affirmed in oppositions creating good couple - feminine gentleness needs his strong masculinity - destroyed by masculine baseness Othello/Iago/Desdemona love triangle
“wedding” between Iago and Othello
Women should be owned by someone (language, characterisation) Affectations of beauty weaken women (song - audio, language) Women should not meddle in a man’s affairs (plot, conflict) Subjugation of women, emotions stamped out as inferior, degraded (language) Reactions of civil society not representative or in relation to the ideas supported, but supports the idea that women are being treated unjustly (dramatic elements)

Depending on how it is read, a work of literature may have more than one meaning. Discuss with reference to at least one work you have studied.

Examples in the plot
Othello overhearing conversation between Iago and Cassio - misconstrues everything that is said

Overall examples/evidence/argument
This is true because:
Othello’s character can...
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