Although being written centuries apart, the limited expectations of women presented in ‘Othello’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ differ little from each other. The female characters are confined by society’s expectations of male dominance, female purity and virginity, and the many passive roles of women. Despite the differing legalities surrounding the position of women between the centuries in which the plays were written, both plays explore the impact of how societal conventions confine women and the ways they must comply to be safe in a patriarchal society. The behaviours and treatments of Desdemona, Blanche and Stella illustrate the attitudes enforced on and the behaviours of women throughout both periods in time and it is these attitudes and behaviours that impact the plays to the greatest extent. When characters in either plays defy their norms, or demonstrate a lack of compliance they induce negative consequences, such as the murder of Desdemona and the institutionalisation of Blanche.
The correlation between relationships and experiences are co-existing functions that assist in operating societies. Since ancient times, social classes have existed within all communities and cultures; a sense of belonging is often determined by one’s position in the social hierarchy. Shakespeare’s Othello highlights determinants including race and gender that affect one’s standing in the hierarchy. An excerpt of Act 1, Scene 1 (Lines 110-112) explores this concept when Iago exclaims “Because we come to do you service and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse, you’ll have your nephews neigh to you.” Shakespeare cleverly incorporates animalistic imagery to showcase the role that race has in a society
Othello being of darker complexion stood out to most causing him to be the target of racist remarks. He married a white woman named, Desdemona, which didn’t suit well with Desdemona’s father. Along with the disapproval of her father, a soldier named Iago came into the picture and decided to ruin and destroy Othello’s relationship. The reason for that is because Iago thought that Othello had an affair with Iago’s wife. Iago never asked to see if it was true and just assumed it was.
The tragedy of Othello written by William Shakespeare presents the main character Othello as a respectable, honorable, and dignified man. However, because of his insecurities and good nature he is easily taken advantage of and manipulated by his alleged friends. Shakespeare is known for his exceptional ability to compose plays full of deceit, revenge, and jealousy. Jealousy is an underlying theme throughout the tragedy and has been represented by many of the main characters, such as Iago, Roderigo, and Othello. The topic of jealousy will ultimately lead to the demise of many characters throughout the tragedy.
Race is a component Iago cannot resist to make him feel more superior and capable of destroying Othello. The first time we hear one of his racist comments is when he 's talking to Brabantio about Othello and Desdemona, “Even now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (1.1.97-98). Iago deciding to utter “black ram” captures the racist aspect that comes from his hatred of Othello and the usage of “tupping your white ewe” describes how he doesn 't want a black man to ruin the perfection of a white woman. Iago uses racist comments all the way through the play, as he tries to turn people against Othello, such as calling him a “Barbary Horse”.
In Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, women are portrayed as either pure angelic beings and jewels, or as whores who are impure. They are objectified and shown as something to be used. The only women in this play are Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca compared to the main 6 male characters, not to mention the minor characters, who are also all male. Their depicted purpose is to belong to a man; Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca’s lives revolve around being wives to Othello, Iago and Cassio. This fits into the idea of a perfect Elizabethan woman, who’s lives are subject to their husband’s rule across all aspects, to be disposed of as men wish.
In the play Othello, William Shakespeare creates an elaborate tragedy with various in depth characters, enhancing the story with powerful characterization. Iago, the main antagonist of Othello, exemplifies Shakespeare’s use of characterization to create in depth and complex characters. Using his manipulative nature, intellectual mind, egotistical attitude, and dishonesty, Iago controls the other characters in order to achieve his goal, leading Othello to succumb to an overwhelming jealousy causing his downfall. In order for Iago to gain control of the characters in the play, he manipulates Othello, Roderigo, Cassio, and more to believe false information and turn on one another.
When people of one race believe themselves to be superior to those of another, only catastrophe can result. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, racism was extremely prevalent, and white supremacy was much more pronounced. In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, both covert and overt racism, assimilation, and jealous dispositions all foreshadow the untimely death of Desdemona and Othello. Most characters in Othello display both covert racism and overt racism towards Othello.
Manipulation of the African Race in Othello In William Shakespeare’s Othello, racism is a principal theme that drives the plot of the entire play. An outlier in Venice, Othello the moor or African, is targeted by his ensign Iago because Cassio who seems to be unqualified, was promoted to a lieutenant before he was. Iago is driven by envy and jealousy and creates a confusing and elaborate plan to deprive Cassio of his position. Iago also shares these envious motives with Roderigo, a man lusting over Othello’s wife.
This unapologetic display of racism is only trailed by more even more racism. For example, when Brabantio confronts Othello in regards to his daughter, he proclaims that Othello “hast enchanted her” (Othello 1.2.284)by giving her “drugs or minerals that weaken motion” (Othello 1.2.294) because he did not believe that his daughter could fall for a “Moor” on her own free will. The
For Shakespeare’s plays to contain enduring ideas, it must illustrate concepts that still remain relevant today, in modern society. Shakespeare utilises his tragic play Othello, to make an important social commentary on the common gender stereotypes. During early modern England, Shakespeare had to comply to the strict social expectations where women were viewed as tools, platonic and mellow, and where men were displayed as masculine, powerful, tempered, violent and manipulative. As distinct as this context is to the 21st century, the play exposes how women were victimised by the men who hold primary power in the community in which they compelled women to conform to the ideal world of a perfect wife or confront an appalling destiny for challenging the system. Moreover, Shakespeare utilises the main antagonist, Iago, to portray how men are desperate to achieve what they want and to indirectly fulfil the stereotype of masculinity and power through manipulation.
A wise philosopher once stated, “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man — the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason” (Schwartsz). It is no revelation that racism often manifests hatred towards minorities. This concept has been widespread throughout the world for centuries. Racism has prevailed through several works of literature including “Othello” by William Shakespeare. In this particular play, the character, Othello, is allegedly a black man who experiences several accounts of racism from other characters, which eventually leads to his downfall.
A Modern View of Feminist Criticism William Shakespeare 's "Othello” can be analyzed from a feminist perspective. This criticism focuses on relationships between genders, like the patterns of thoughts, behavior, values, enfranchisement, and power in relations between and within sexes. A feminist examination of the play enables us to judge the distinctive social esteems and status of women and proposes that the male-female power connections that become an integral factor in scenes of Othello impact its comprehension. I believe that the critical lens that provides modern society with the most compelling view of literature is Feminist Criticism because it analyzes distrust and disloyalty among relationships, women being treated as possessions
Defining Racism To properly lay out the issue of racism in the play it is desirable to know how the term itself is defined. The Oxford English Dictionary explains Racism as follows: A belief that one’s own racial or ethnic group is superior, or that other such groups represent a threat to one 's cultural identity, racial integrity, or economic well-being; (also) a belief that the members of different racial or ethnic groups possess specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities, which can be compared and evaluated. Hence: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of other racial or ethnic groups.
Throughout history, societies have succumbed to the toxic concepts of racism, causing an unthinkable amount of chaos and devastation. While racism on its own can lead to many societal evils, racism coupled with jealousy can create a truly catastrophic force that can only lead to pure destruction. When someone of a different race and culture is placed in this kind of society, this destruction will only naturally follow. In the play Othello, William Shakespeare focuses on the tragic outcomes of Othello, a Venetian general and black Turkish Moor, and Desdemona, his white Venetian wife. Throughout the play, both covert and overt racism, assimilation, and jealous dispositions all foreshadow the untimely death of Desdemona and Othello.