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Othello Gender Roles

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Emilia: Reinventing Traditional Women’s Roles What constitutes the perfect woman? From childhood, preconceived gender roles have been hammered into my mind, with women being presented as delicate, submissive and sweet. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello,” Emilia acts as a force to challenge women’s conventional roles; accenting the play’s overall emphasis on prejudice and society’s overbearing stigmas. Her contribution to evoking change within women’s attitudes is clearly shown through her loyalty, views on equality, and heroism which fuels Othello’s themes regarding gender roles. Emilia plays a fascinating character in terms of loyalty and being true to the mold of the ideal Shakespearean woman. She remains dutiful to her husband, Iago,…show more content…
Although Emilia is a middle-class woman with many restraints placed upon her actions, she still has ideas opposing the concept that women are of lesser importance than men. She asks Desdemona, “And have not we affections, / Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?” (4.3.98). Emilia deems that men are not exceptional beings and therefore do not have the right to mistreat women simply because they are able to do so. She encompasses the notion that both women and men are human and that each gender has the same susceptibility for emotion and control over their behavior, furthermore displaying her revolutionary perspective on equality. In her speech, she counters that men should be held just as accountable for their actions as women, rebuking pre-existing stereotypes. I believe that Emilia’s point of view regarding equality solidifies her character as a source of modernization and displays her true radical nature, which frames Othello’s gender…show more content…
While she does not fight wars and conquer countries comparable to her male counter-parts in Othello, Emilia reigns as a hero for reasons of her own. She acts as the key to the truth behind the events of the tragedy, and uses her last shred of influence to right the wrongs of those around her. Her gallantry is definitely shown through her dying words, as she discloses to Othello, “Moor, she was chaste. She loved thee, cruel Moor” (5.2.113). Emilia’s actions upon her impending fate speak volumes about her true self. Her last prayer contrasts that of Othello, who asks to gain redemption and to keep a formable reputation. In her final act, she musters her remaining strength to defend Desdemona, her friend who has been murdered unfairly. This exhibits true heroism, for heroes are selfless, putting those they love ahead of themselves. Nobility in her character shines through, placing her above those in Othello with a higher social order than she possesses. Her actions spark that of optimism, showing that human decency and honesty will always triumph over evil. Although Emilia is a middle-class woman and her importance in society is limited; her impact on the play is crucial, depicting that women are capable of performing righteous
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