Representation of Women in Othello

Representation of Women in Othello

Go over the representation of ladies in the patriarchal world of Othello Shakespeare’s play, Othello, represents females as victims of the patriarchal society in which they live. Early contemporary England, founded on Christian theology, viewed women, daughters of Eve, as sexual temptresses who needed to be ruled over by guys in order to have their inherent propensity of lasciviousness limited (Marriot 10). Consequently, social expectations were put on women to be chaste, silent and mild in attitude and submissive and loyal to male authority (Ranald 131). Othello represents women in such a society as ictims abused by men who make the most of their position of authority, powerless to alter the overbearing ideological structures, and forced to either comply with the ideal image of the perfect female or deal with a terrible fate for challenging the system. Through the character of Emilia, Shakespeare represents women as victims of the patriarchal society in which they live, maltreated by males who abuse their position of authority. Grennan (283) contends that regardless of Emilia conforming to the image of the ideal wife, she still is an ‘mistreated victim of patriarchal uthority’, being dealt with cruelly by Iago as nothing more than an ‘object to be utilized and overlooked’ at his own satisfaction. This is demonstrated as Iago embarrasses Emilia by publically berating her as a ‘nagging wife’, when in reality, as Desdemona explains, as much as this point in the play she fits the image of the perfect better half in having ‘no speech’ (Othello 247). Emilia’s victimization is further shown when Iago utilizes his position of authority, understanding that as his partner Emilia should follow him, to achieve Desdemona’s handkerchief. After Emilia obediently steals the scarf, Iago silences her questions with a perfunctory, ‘Go, leave e’ (301 ). This reveals how Iago views her merely as a tool to be used in his wicked machinations, neither somebody he enjoys or for whom he cares. Further, Shakespeare represents ladies as victims of the patriarchal society in which they live, subject to extreme treatment by males who abuse their position of authority, as Emilia apparently exposes, through the raw intensity of her speech, what appears to be an uncomfortable individual experience of sexual mistreatment. She shows, ‘T is not a year or two programs us a man: They are all but stomachs, and all of us however food; they consume us hungerly, and when they are complete hey belch us’ (Othello, 319). This graphic metaphor presents females as sexual 1 objects, totally free to be used by and disposed of by guys who misuse their positions of authority, using women to please their sexual desires. This metaphor illustrating the abuse ladies suffer under the authority of guys is further showed through Bianca’s character. Neill (177) contends that Cassio abuses his position of authority, making use of Bianca as a ‘mere consumer’ to satisfy his libidos, disregarding her sensations and worth as a human who holds ‘authentic love’ for him.

She even more is represented as abused by men as she is rejected a position of mankind by the names males call her (Grennan 282). To Iago and Cassio she is monkey, bauble, fitchew, garbage or strumpet. Furthermore, Shakespeare represents females as victims of the patriarchal society in which they live as they are required to either conform to the ideal image of the perfect female or face an awful fate for challenging the system. Marriot (33) argues that the only sin the women in Othello are guilty of is not conforming to society’s perfect picture of woman. She further recommends that in not submitting to ocietal expectations, and therefore tough male authority, that each female ends up being a victim of the patriarchal world that saw ‘violence as needed to keep control over females’ (Marriot 34). Corbett (15) competes that Desdemona becomes a ‘victim of the male ego’, as Othello is fooled by Iago to believe that she has stopped working to carry out her ‘responsibilities as a female’, to be faithful to her spouse, and in repercussion has actually ‘knocked’ his ‘authority’. In order for Othello to restore his position of supremacy the patriarchal society needs he penalizes Desdemona and hence, despite her innocence, she is rendered helpless o his reprimand. Desdemona utilizes the ‘Tune of Willow’ to speak through a male reliable voice to stress her innocence and position as a victim of the male-dominant society. When she is asked by Emilia who was the person responsible for the criminal offense dedicated versus her, she does not implicate her other half, but rather takes the blame on herself stating ‘No one, I myself’ (Othello, 381). Bartels (430) recommend that she does not blame Othello due to the fact that like the voice of the ballad threatens, ‘her incriminations of him will only lead to his recriminations against her’.

She continues, suggesting that as Desdemona takes the blame on herself she actually ‘repeats her commitment’ to her other half, rendering herself as the perfect other half who would not have actually devoted the accused crime of being unfaithful, and thus represents herself as an innocent victim (Bartels, 430). Similarly, Emilia is represented as a victim of the patriarchal society in 2 which she lives as she is punished by death for challenging male authority when exposing her hubby’s wicked machinations. Iyasere (71) shows that in spite of adhering to the stereotype of the best woman throughout the play, after

Desdemona’s murder, she is ‘transfigured’, ‘condemning the corrupt patriarchal society of Venice’ as she convicts Othello and repudiates her husband for his disobedience. Emilia even more threatens male authority by not following her partner’s commands for her to be quiet and go home. She says ‘T appertains I follow him, however not now. Perchance, Iago, I will n’er go home’ (Othello, 386). Here, for the very first time in the play she asserts herself as independent from Iago. Iyasere (71) competes that as a result she is shown to become a victim of patriarchal authority; Iago can not ‘tolerate’ her action of self-assertion, nterpreting her ‘psychological freedom’ as repudiating ‘his presence’, and as an outcome, humiliated by his loss of ability to ‘control her as he has in the previous’, loses control, fatally stabbing his wife. Even more, Bianca is represented as a victim of the patriarchal world as she is condemned to face a tragic fate, being eliminated to be tortured, for challenging male authority as she fails to show the image of the traditional woman. Bianca threatens the patriarchal society through her blatant display of sexuality. Grennan (283) shows that as a prostitute, Bianca portrays the sexuality that in the Garden f Eden tempted Adam to sin, which of which the patriarchal society, through having males control over ladies, intended to bring into order. Thus, by not adhering to the predicted standard picture of the chaste and devoted woman, not coming under a male covering to restrain her inherent lasciviousness, she poses as a danger to the male-dominant society. It is due to the fact that of Emilia’s defiance of the standard view of woman that Iago has the ability to frame her as a suspect for Cassio’s attempted murder. Thus, she is represented as a victim of the atriarchal society in which she lives, taken away to be tortured until she admits to attempting to kill Cassio, regardless of being innocent of the allegations. Females in Othello are represented as victims of the patriarchal society in which they live. They are depicted as victims, abused by males who benefit from their societally ordained position of authority to use women to achieve their personal goals and satisfy their libidos. Even more, they are presented to suffer in the male-dominant world as they are required to either conform to the traditionally anticipated behaviours of ladies, or be condemned to a tragic fate as penalty for challenging the patriarchal authority of the day.

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Bibliography 4 Bartels, E. C. “Methods Of Submission: Desdemona, The Duchess, And The Assertion Of Desire.” Studies in English Literature. 36. 2 (1996 ): 417-433 Print. Corbett, L. A. 2009, “Male Supremacy And Female Exploitation: A Study Of Female Victimization In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, And Hamlet.” Web. 21 Apr. 2014, http://digitalcommons. auctr. edu/dissertations/93 http://digitalcommons. auctr. edu/cgi/viewcontent. cgi? article=1637&& context=dissertations.

Douglass, A. “A Society That Eliminates: Patriarchal Violence in Othello.” Shakespeare Studies 30. 4 (1993) 1-14 Print. Goldberg, J. Shakespearean engravings: the voicing of power. Shakespeare and the Concern of Theory. New York City: Methuen, 1985. Print. Grennan, E. “The females’s voices in Othello: speech, song, silence. Shakespeare.” Quarterly 38. 3 (1987 ): 275-292 Print. Iyasere, S. “The Freedom Of Emilia.” Shakespeare In Southern Africa 21. 1 (2009 ): 69-72 Print. Levenson, J. L. “The Society Of Women In The History Of Othello From Shakespeare To Verdi.” University Of Toronto Quarterly 81. (2012 ): 850-859 Print. Lynch, K. “Power, Patriarchy, And Penalty In Shakespeare’s ‘Othello. ‘” Research Studies in English Literature 33. 1 (1993 ): 1-11 Print. Marriot, J. E. 2009, “Challenging Cultural Stereotypes: Women Tragic Protagonists In Jacobean Drama.” Web. 21 Apr. 2014. http://www. library. ubc. ca/archives/retro _ theses/ Neely, C. T. “Women And Men In Othello: ‘What Should Such A Fool Make with 5 So Good A Lady? ‘.” Shakespeare Researches 10. 1 (1977 ): 133-159 Print. Ranald, M. L. “The Indiscretions Of Desdemona.” Shakespeare Quarterly 14. 2 (1963 ): 127-139 Print. 6

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