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The Role Of Women In Shakespeare's Othello

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While Desdemona is a remarkably strong character, Emilia also displays independence unmatched by any other female in Othello, and there are multiple details of Shakespeare and his time that may have prompted such a portrayal. In Elizabethan England, many women worked behind the scenes of productions, like Shakespeare’s, as uncredited authors and editors (Crowley). Due to their anonymity, nobody can be sure that women were involved in Shakespeare’s plays nor Othello in particular, but there is a genuine possibility that female writers did have leverage. This may have had to do with how Emilia was portrayed as resilient from the time of Desdemona’s death all the way until her own, standing up for herself regardless of the ridicule it caused her (Iyasere). In fact, it even killed her in the end. Moreover, women may have surreptitiously helped formulate Emilia’s self-sufficiency and valor in order to either live vicariously through her, in frustration with their misogynist society, or at the very least, to comment on it. Additionally, it is likely that Emilia’s independence was inspired by Shakespeare’s own wife and mother, whose atypical authority can both be confidently assumed. Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, very possibly had more sway in her relationship with Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, because before their marriage, Mary was in a higher social class than John, as her father was a gentleman farmer (Andrews). Thus she was not entirely reliant on her husband. As
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