Feminine Roles In Shakespeare's Othello

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Feminine roles in William Shakespeare’s Othello have been discussed to depict the traditional female figures who follow the expectations of the Elizabethan patriarchal society; however, the figures of Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca, also present some characteristics which endorse the modern gender norms of women behaviour. To start with, at the beginning of the play Desdemona is depicted by her father as passive, innocent and obedient. Like Sinfield states in Cultural Materialism, Othello, and the Politics of Plausibility “a woman should obey the male head of her family, who should be first her father (…) then her husband”, hence, when Desdemona marries Othello without her father’s consent she is, at the same time, disobeying the Venetian society; she does not enter the institution of marriage directly from her paternal domination, she displeases him. However, her active personality disappears once she marries Othello. After she becomes Othello’s wife, Desdemona is no longer a dissenting character as “she does not question the woman’s obligation to obey” (Greenblatt 1980: 239), she becomes a passive and obedient woman towards her husband. Moreover, the way in which Othello calls her wife: “Come, my dear love,/ The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue” (Othello, Act 2, scene iii), reinforces the idea of women being possessions to their husbands. Finally, Desdemona’s sexuality is questioned by Othello’s internalized Protestantism, who condemns her supposed adulterous wife to
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