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The Gendered Body In Shakespeare's Othello

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A fully developed professional theatre that emerged in England in the 1580s had a “profound effect on the ways the gendered body was staged” (Michael Billing, 16). Early modern constructions of the gendered body were “viewed as along a continuum” moving in one direction or the other (Will Fisher, 6). This idea can suggest the performativity of gender rather than its ontological core on the early modern stage. Shakespeare’s comedies may suggest that masculinity on the stage is like “a suit of clothes” that could be put on or taken off at will (Bruce R. Smith, 3). While dramatists of this period question the validity of female stereotypes . For the purpose of this essay, I understand the term “gendered body” to be the masculine and feminine stereotypes rooted in a body.…show more content…
The first recorded performance of Othello was in 1604, and the play continues to explore and undermine Elizabethan stereotypes about race and gender. My focus is on how Othello and Desdemona break away from these Elizabethan stereotypes. I will explore this in three ways. First, through Othello’s martial body which breaks away from racial stereotypes on blackness; Second, Othello’s emasculated body as a cuckold breaks away from masculine stereotypes; Third, Desdemona’s transgressive body breaks away from feminine stereotypes. This essay will examine how these factors confirm the characters breaking away from stereotypes rooted in their gendered
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