Gender Roles In Othello

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To be woman in the early days of the seventeenth century is to live in an age of deeply entrenched sexism and gender-roles. What is often not considered is the roles that men, despite their roles as oppressors, were forced into. Men were caged by extreme expectations of toxic masculinity. Othello, the great tragedy by William Shakespeare written approximately in 1603 deals deeply with this concept. David Bevington (an acclaimed literary critic) and Carol Thomas Neely (Department of English, University of Illinois) assert that the men in Othello, are perhaps most aptly defined by sexual anxiety. Critics point out that the men in Othello are crippled by their notions of women, their reliance on the adoration and loyalty of their wives, and the disgust of sexaulity all those who do not fall within the scope of wifely obedience and purity. Othello presents a demeaning profile of men…show more content…
The play Othello is, at its core, a tragedy defined by the weakness of men and their complete vulnerableness to an (imaginary) anxiety over women, the male characters presented in the play present men in a degrading way. Men in the play view women’s value as reliant on how effectively they meet gender role because of this they see women as objects and extension of themselves. When women behave in a ‘not appropriate way’, it tears away the manhood of each character. Men crippled by this fear, turn into monsters swept away by their vicious jealousy. In this day and age, these inaccurate depictions of men help to continue the cycle of sexism by telling boys that machismo and hyper-masculinity are things to be desired. It creates a culture where men are expected to be brutes and therefore are never held to the higher standards that are wholly within reach. They are forced into gender roles that are damaging to all in the society. The men in Othello show that to go along with societal pressures to fit gender roles is to allow yourself to be equated with the unseemly stereotype of
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