Othello - Female Stereotypes Essay

1118 Words Mar 13th, 2013 5 Pages
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Othello Essay

In “Othello,” William Shakespeare extensively explores female stereotypes that occur during the playwright’s time. Throughout the Shakespearian era, women were seen as the inferior sex, over whom men had complete control and thus forcing women to act submissively and obediently in front of their husbands. Men believed that women were objects who just cooked meals, cleaned the house, and bore children while society just accepted these degrading roles. William Shakespeare extensively reinforces female stereotypes by presenting the deaths of Emilia and Desdemona to be rightly deserved for defying their female gender roles throughout the play. Emilia and Desdemona are polar opposite characters who
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Desdemona disobeys her father, defies Iago, and asserts herself in front of Othello. Her first lines show her defiance to her father when she chooses Othello “the Moor, [her] lord” (1.3.189) without parental consent. Although, she knows that she is at fault, she doesn’t apologize for marrying “an old black ram,” (1.1.90). By defying her father, Barbantio, she sows her own seeds of destruction. When Barbantio declares, “She has deceived her father, and may thee,” (1.3.291) to Othello, the doubt in her fidelity becomes apparent to Iago, thus resulting in her own death. Furthermore, while Iago continues to make crude, sexist jokes in front of Desdemona and Emilia, Desdemona counters back with her retort, “Oh, most lame and impotent conclusion! Do not learn of him, Emilia, though he by thy husband,” (2.1.169-170). She even suggests to Emilia to ignore Emilia’s own husband. Desdemona’s response to Othello after he strikes her shows her lack of obedience. As a victim of physical abuse, Desdemona tersely replies, “I have not deserved this,” (4.1.233). When Emilia asks about her murderer before Desdemona’s death, she does not blame Othello because she is compliant, but because she knows that she is the real individual to blame for challenging the female convention, “Nobody. I

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