The Role Of Women In Othello

845 words - 4 pages

There are only three female characters in William Shakespeare's play Othello, Desdemona, Othello’s wife, Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s lady-in-waiting, and Bianca, a courtesan. When first introduced to this limited number of representatives of the female gender, it is quickly assumed that they will not be very present or have an important role in story. In addition, the male characters of the play see women as submissive and promiscuous possessions that should be controlled by either their fathers or spouses. However Shakespeare’s female characters are shown to question male authority and to have the ability to speak for themselves, which could be seen as feminist statement during ...view middle of the document...

For example when receiving congratulations for his marriage to her, he is told, “use Desdemona well” (I.3.288). This implies that women are objects that should be utilized by their husbands as they see fit. Another example of this is when Othello wants Desdemona to accompany him to Cyprus, she treated as a possession as she is too be transported there, and to be guarded along the way. The idea of women as possessions is also displayed through Iago’s thoughts about Emilia. For instance when he thinks that Othello is sleeping with his wife he proclaims, “the lusty Moor hath leaped into my seat’ (II.1.286-7), this objectifies her, as it refers to her only being a “seat” for him to exploit.

The male characters in the play do not only see women as objects but they also seem to fear their sexuality. The most distinct example being Othello's immediate reaction when Iago tells him that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio, even though that statement has no proof. Throughout the play Othello consistently refers to lust and matters of the flesh when he speaks of his wife, and becomes increasingly aware of the sexual power she has over him. He becomes frightenedof this power when he plans to murder her, as he fears that it will deter him from what has set out to do. “I’ll not expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty unprovide my mind again”...

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