Women in Othello/ Elizabethan Times

Topics: Othello, Iago, Elizabeth I of England Pages: 5 (1622 words) Published: October 25, 2008
“The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose” (Stevenson, Robert).In play Othello identity is a topic that appears throughout the play. In Shakespeare Othello all the women, Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca have no separate identity all three are defined by who they are or not married to or the male characters they are connected with. “According to the Elizabethan times that the play was written in and the general hierarchies within Venetian society men hold all the power and women are considered to be of low intellect” (Berggren 55). Yet it is the women that speak the in the scenes throughout the play. Othello by William Shakespeare is a story in which the women characters are treated in the unfair way that women of the time of the Elizabethan times were treated. As seen in the play, women of this time were treated as objects and were not believed to have their own opinion or wishes. The women in Othello are typically Elizabethan. Men in this time believed that women should stay home while it is acceptable for them to go out with their friends and have affairs with other women. In the Elizabethan times this was understand that this would happen and the women were suppose to accept it and love their husbands. It is also shown in Othello that men are supposed to run everything even who their daughter marries. This is shown when Brabantio gets upset because his daughter has chosen to marry without his permission. He is so upset that he wants to take the case to court and see Othello imprisoned for stealing his daughter. When Desdemona tells him that she now owes her loyalty to her husband he is clearly upset and gives Othello Desdemona’s hand even though Brabantio claims he has already taken it. Even though Desdemona has made her own decision, Brabantio still feels that he needs to give his daughter away. It is also showed that men had owned women when Desdemona said “she once owed her loyalty to her father but now owes it to her husband” (98). Desdemona was never at any point in Othello well not at least when she was alive her own person she always was there to make a man happy. The way women of the Elizabethan times were treated is shown in they play when Emilia asks Desdemona, “Isn’t frailty that thus errs? / It is so too. And have not we affections? / Desires for sport? And frailty/ as men have? / Then let them use us well; else let them know, / The ills we do, their ills instruct us so” (95-100). Emilia is a character in Othello that challenges what is expected from Elizabethan women. Emilia first challenges the standard of silence that is expected from Elizabethan women. She challenges this when Othello calls Desdemona a "whore" for cheating. In reply, Emilia speaks up loudly against Othello. After finding Desdemona killed, Emilia challenges silence again: "As ignorant as dirt! Thou hast done a deed-..The Moor hath killed my mistress!" (171,174). Although Othello tells Emilia that it would be "best" for her to remain silent; she ignores his command and ridicules him for killing Desdemona. Emilia challenges the social norm of chastity by condoning women that deceive their husbands. Although Emilia does not openly state whether she has ever cheated, she does say that she would not cheat for little, material wealth, but any woman would cheat in order to make her husband king: "Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? ( 77). In addition, Emilia explains that the reason women cheat is because their husbands "slack their duties" and "break out into peevish jealousies ( 87, 89).Emilia challenges obedience when she disobeys Iago in order to defend Desdemona. After Desdemona is killed, Othello talks about how Desdemona was unfaithful and about the handkerchief that she supposedly gave to Cassio: "With that recognizance and pledge of love / which I first gave her. I saw it in his hand (5.2. 221,222). Against Iago's wishes, Emilia tells Othello that Iago asked her to steal the...

Cited: Cassal, Steve. "Shakespeare 's OTHELLO." Explicator 61 (2003): 4-131. Academic
Thomas, Heather. "Elizabethan Women." The Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth I. 1998.
27 Feb
New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002. 801-812.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Elizabethan Times- Othello Essay
  • othello Essay
  • Elizabethan Attitudes to Women, Race and Transgression in Othello Essay
  • Essay on A summary of the presentation of women in Othello
  • Representation of Women in Othello Essay
  • the role of women in othello Essay
  • Women vs. Men in Othello Essay
  • Essay about Othello

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free