Gender is a common thread that is woven through most major Shakespearean plays. An argument that follows the story lines of works such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and a more dominant role in Othello. Written in 1603, Othello examines the contrast between female and male characters, and where their place is in society. As this was written in a time where women were seen as the lesser sex compared to their male counterparts. Males take on more power hungry roles, drowning out the roles of females by minimizing their thoughts and actions. Othello, a man with military power as well as the other male roles such as Iago, Roderigo, Cassio and Brabantio who also hold roles with power and dominance over the female characters. This ultimately leads
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.
The cruelty Iago is able to incite in Othello and Roderigo reveals their deep passions and overwhelmingly trusting natures. The fact that Othello is so vulnerable and susceptible to Iago’s poisoning sheds light on his lurking insecurities about age, race and appearance, which Othello is ultimately unable to ignore. Likewise, Roderigo’s willingness to sacrifice all money and morals by Iago’s bidding reflects his naive passions and an overall lack of personal strength. In stark contrast with Othello and Roderigo, Desdemona, the primary victim of Iago’s cruelty and yet the only one who dies completely unaware of it, turns out, somewhat ironically, to be the only one whose inner self is completely unaffected by Iago. On the eve of her death, even after being horribly mistreated by Othello, she firmly upholds her values of loyalty and obedience, and her belief that no woman would ever wrong her husband.
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
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
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. Each female character is treated by men as a possession. However, there are also moments when they are presented as confident and challenge a male authority. This would have been exiting for Shakespeare’s female Elizabethan audience as women
Feminist point of view means the analysis of any literary works based on the feminist perception. Feminism has gradually become broad and noticeable in its attacks on male-dominated society. The Shakespearian era of the 16th century was a time when women were very inferior in the society. If we compare with other writers, Shakespeare was always careful of women and tried to give them respect in his different writings. If we look at his famous play named Othello we need to judge the equality of women in terms of political, social and economic perspective. The feminist perspective challenges sexism and other beliefs and practices that result in the domination of women. When we look at Othello from feminist point of view it is important to note how the women of this play are treated and stereotyped.
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.
In Cohen’s elucidation of Othello, he comments on the strong and prominent theme of white supremacy. Othello has pushed aside most, if not all, of his cultural characteristics in favor of adopting Venetian traits. He does this as a way to earn back some respect that he lost because of his skin color. Throughout the whole play, Othello is the victim of racial slurs that would demand serious punishment if they were directed at a white man. Cohen contradicts himself in this article when he says that Othello’s suicide “proclaims the triumph of the white civilization”(325) while demeaning himself, but then comments on how Othello reasserts his value with a simple statement. He goes from saying how Othello’s suicide reassured people’s beliefs that black people are inferior in their actions, to how his death left him with a clear resolution of the difficulty that he faced in his life. (150)
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. Throughout the play we observe Emilia’s character change, and how she suffered the consequence of challenging the system.
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. According to psychoanalysis studies, “Hate is grounded in some sense of perceived threat. It is an attitude that can give rise to hostility and aggression toward individuals or groups” (Abrams). Racism is arguably one of the strongest forms
In William Shakespeare’s Othello, other characters assume Othello’s traits, habits, and abilities simply based on his single story. Othello’s single story is exceedingly normal; he is Muslim, from Northern Africa, and black. Adiche says, “a single story robs people of their dignity” (Adiche), basing their assumptions on facts they do not like, characters such as Brabantio
Prejudice is a powerful force that affects the lives of many characters in The Chrysalids by John Whyndam and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. In these texts women are not treated equally, children are taught to discriminate and, the prejudice towards eachother leads to violence. Firstly, the women of these texts are affected and have to deal with an abundance of prejudice and sexism towards them. Secondly, the adolescent are affected by prejudice since they grow up in worlds where they are taught to hate and not treat others equally. Thirdly, the prejudices towards one another leads to violence which affects themselves and those around them.
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.
It is also important to note that there are different types of jealousy at play in Othello for different characters-- Iago’s envy of Cassio is not in the same branch as Othello and Brabanzio’s watchfulness and ownership over Desdemona. Unfortunately, in the case of Othello, Desdemona’s class is often hidden as a source of jealousy, due to her innocent characterization and place as the long-suffering victim. However, it is still made evident to the audience that Desdemona is a valuable resource to be had. This is made to be even more of a problem when race is brought into the equation-- not only is Desdemona of a higher class than Othello, she is also of a higher ranking race as a white