The sole purpose of women in ‘Othello’ is not to highlight the struggles of male characters, but in fact I feel it’s much the opposite. There is a strong emphasis on women as possessions and the idea that women are submissive. The three women in the play -Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca - are rejected by their respective partners. In a modern reading, we can deconstruct the play to understand that the struggles of women seem to be highlighted; strongly aided by the male counterparts which drives the women to form a closer relationship with each other. In doing this, the portrayal of the male characters to a 21st century audience would seem somewhat pessimistic. Yet when we consider the time in which it was written, these were the social norms. Shakespeare has unconsciously positioned his audience over time to draw attention to the struggles of women, particularly through a feminist reading.
Othello’s portrayal of women is that of a piece of property. The metaphor in the line “come my dear love, the purchase has been made, the fruits ensue” describes marriage as an act of purchase; the woman as the piece of property. Here it is suggested that a woman is bought by her husband and expected to fulfil his sexual needs without any feeling of emotion attached. Further emphasis is made in regards to performing sexual tasks in imagery similar to food consumption when Emilia says to Desdemona, “They are all but stomachs, and we are all but food/ They eat us hungerly and when they are full they belch us”. Emilia is expressing that women are used emotionally and sexually by their male partners, being defined by male’s sexual access to them. This reiterates the idea of women as male possessions and the feelings of emotional rejection associated with it.
Despite the fact that the women of Othello are so submissive, they are rejected by their male partner. Society weighs heavily... [continues]
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