Women vs. Men in Othello
Whether intentional or not, William Shakespeare’s Othello can be viewed (help) from a feminist perspective. Many scholars continually argue that Othello consists of a male dominated society in which the women play an insignificant role. While this argument proves mostly accurate in the political realm, women control society and love in ways that overwhelm the strengths of men, ultimately leading to the disgraceful downfalls of men. In Venetian society at this particular time in history, women are perceived as weak, subordinate, and even prostitutes. Shakespeare presents the reader with three main women characters: Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca. The men of this society view women as possessions. For example, Iago seems to believe that “it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets/He’s done my office” (I.3.381-2). This suggests that Othello has slept with his wife; however in reality, Iago displays little affection towards her. Just the thought that “the lusty Moor/hath leaped into [his] seat” drives Iago to insanity (II.1.286-7). With this point of view, Emilia is stripped of her humanity as her husband metaphorically describes her as his “office” and “seat.” The women are evidently used by the men to fulfill their desire, but this turns against them as strong women begin to resist the requirements of this patriarchal society. A limited number of people, such as Carol Thomas Neely, introduce the idea that Desdemona “is helpless because her nature is infinitely sweet and her love absolute”(Neely). However, while professing her love for Othello “before the senators, she answers her father's charges forcefully and persuasively, without shyness or reticence”(Garner). Desdemona proves to be a strong woman, who knows her desires and the methods in which she will use to achieve them. The women of this play fail to comply with the well-known social norms of their gender role. Emilia “combines sharp-tongue honesty with...
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