Essay on The Role of Women in Othello by William Shakespeare

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The Role of Women in Othello by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Othello is commonly regarded as a work depicting man's ability to use his reason towards evil intentions. A lowly ancient in a general's army is able to destroy him through manipulation and deceit. But although Iago's deceit of Othello is undoubtedly a central theme in the play, another theme regarding the nature of the man towards woman is apparent. Shakespeare's Othello suggests that men mistreat women because women, as a sex, allow themselves to be mistreated. The mistreatment of women by their men occurs throughout the play. The main characters view their wives or significant others as inferiors and usually merely as objects of lust and physical desire. This
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On the contrary, they remain subserviently loyal to their spouses. One such example from the play is Emilia's stealing of Desdemona's handkerchief. Although Iago mistreats Emilia and detests her, Emilia remains more loyal to him than to gentle and caring Desdemona. She gives the handkerchief even after Iago calls her "a foolish wife" and "a good wench." Another female character, Bianca, also allows herself to be mistreated. Bianca believes that she is in love with Cassio and will therefore do anything for him. But Cassio does not reciprocate Bianca's feelings. He states to Iago "Alas, poor rogue, I think i' faith she loves me." (4.1.128) Cassio essentially uses Bianca's love to his own means. He gets her to willingly do chores for him (e.g. copy the embroidery from Desdemona's handkerchief) and goes to her house for dinner and other entertainment whenever he pleases. However, neither Emilia nor Bianca's mistreatment is as tragic as Othello's abuse of Desdemona. At the beginning of the play, Othello and Desdemona are completely in love and it is impossible to believe Othello capable of hurting her in any way. By the end of the play however, Othello is determined to kill Desdemona. When Desdemona learns of Othello's intentions, she resists feebly, but accepts her fate. When asked who her murderer is, Desdemona says, "Nobody. I myself. Farewell. Commend me to my kind lord. O, farewell." (5.2.152-153) No where is the submissiveness of the women to

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