Essay on Women of Shakespeare`S Othello

1999 Words Nov 22nd, 2013 8 Pages
Shakespeare's Attitude Toward Women in "Othello"

A quick summary of the play can be found here.

Shakespeare was always wary of women and careful to give them respect, which is obvious when reading Othello. The society of Othello is strongly dominated by men who are the political and military leaders of their homeland. These men are expected to stay loyal to their reputations and to uphold the strong sense of character that earned them their positions in the first place. Women on the other hand, are thought of as weak second-class citizens or even defective males, who are in place for nothing more than to serve their men. The captivating thing about Othello is Shakespeare’s upheaval of these expectations,
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Little does he know, his wife knows him better than he gives her credit for, and he will have to answer to her in the end.

Desdemona's Sexual Power Over Her (Supposedly) Mighty Man

At this point in the play, the men are the dominant figures. Most of the attention has been given the power struggle between Iago and the rest, and the women are often brushed to the side. Yet, as Shakespeare delves deeper into Othello’s tormented mind, it becomes clear that his wife has an incredible power over him. Some of the Moor’s most raw and desperately tortured lines come out as he appears to become weakened by Iago’s words. He states, “I had been happy if the general camp, / Pioneers and all, had tasted her sweet body, / So I had nothing known,” (Norton Ed., 2158) as he grieves over the words Iago has poisoned him with about the supposed infidelity of his wife. These lines speak volumes about Othello’s vulnerability to words as he blatantly admits that he would rather not be told that his wife is false because he cannot cope with the thought of her with someone else. The emotions are all the more striking because they are so relatable to those of us who understand jealousy and heartbreak.

When one is truly in love, it can be hard to think about anything else, and for a man to imagine his lover with another man can be as agonizing an ordeal as any in life. It therefore makes sense that Othello bids his life goodbye at this point by exclaiming, “Farewell the

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