Portrayl of Women in Othello

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During the late sixteenth century in Venice, a male-dominated society thrived while women struggled to be heard. Desdemona, Bianca, and Emilia are all victims of this society throughout Shakespeare’s Othello. Desdemona, an obedient, loyal, and pure young woman, is ultimately a victim to Othello’s over-powering strength and jealousy. Conversely, Bianca lives as prostitute who is ignored by Michael Cassio, whom she loves, because of her low status in society. Emilia is not naïve like Desdemona, yet not tarnished like Bianca; she is a realist who displays great bravery and heroism. In the end, however, she is defeated by her husband Iago. Although these three women in Othello possess conflicting characteristics, they all act as victims to their male counterparts. Desdemona is often seen as William Shakespeare’s ideal woman; she is pure, beautiful, loyal, insightful, and at times audacious when she feels she must be. In her first scene with her father, the Duke, she explains, “My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty… You are the lord of my duty; I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband… I challenge that I may profess, Due to the Moor my lord.” (I.iii.179-188) her speech not only shows her audacity before the Venetian senate, but also her insightful nature as she does not insist on her commitment to Othello is at the expense of respect for her father. Next she displays her loyalty as close friend Michael Cassio has lost his position beneath her husband after a drunken brawl. Seeing his grief, she repeatedly reminds her husband of his good nature. She continued to do so even when confronted with Othello’s aggravation, because of how much she cared for Cassio. Desdemona’s loyalty is definitively challenged Othello accused her of adultery and struck her face in front of Lodovico. Although she had been publicly humiliated, she followed Othello’s orders and left his sight. Finally she is a victim to Othello as he concludes that he will murder her...
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