In Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Desdemona is spoken about as if she is Brabantio’s possession; his ‘white ewe’. Not only does the
Romeo and Juliet Essay “Shakespeare and Misogyny” A world where men dominate women. This idea was the basis of many Renaissance era dramas. Writers always used to perceive certain genders as having distinctive qualities and traits. Men were held up to a higher respect and given more violent roles than women.
Also, each relationship in Othello provokes jealousy in one partner. In a typical Venetian society, a woman was considered to be a man’s property, so if a woman was disobedient, it negatively impacted the man, while also questioning his masculinity. The hyperbolic soliloquy as Othello expressed he would “rather be a toad” than “keep a corner of the thing I love” is Othello’s justification of killing his wife, as her untrustworthiness challenged his masculinity and reputation. Referring to Desdemona as a “thing” emphasises the idea of women being property. Iago’s jealousy of Desdemona and Othello’s relationship is emphasised through the degrading comment of Othello, “an old black ram” “tupping” Brabantio’s “white ewe”.
Oh, curse of marriage / That we can call these delicate creatures ours / And not their appetites!” (3.3.308-11). In this quote, Othello says that there is nothing more to do than hate Desdemona, wives cannot truly belong to their husbands. This is a sign of weakness because Iago has no real evidence to back up the claims he has made to Othello, however, Othello is not strong enough to brush them aside.
In his play “Othello,” Shakespeare is very compassionate towards the women of his era. He treats Desdemona with special sympathy. She is the victim of two crossed male aspirations — the devilry of villain Iago and the jealousy of her husband. The main cause of Desdemona’s tragedy is the total absence of women’s personal liberty. The lack of self-development without restrictions of society and family constricts the mind.
Ancient plays throughout different cultures in history contained all male cast, failing to even cast women as they were deemed inferior. Tradition held that the culture in western societies restricted women’s roles. Even as female characters were indeed written in certain plays, the role were portrayed by a male. They regarded women being able to portray these roles as dangerous and that having men play them “neutralized” the danger it possessed. The Greek’s and the Roman’s both held these views making it impossible for women to be on stage.
In Shakespeare’s Othello and in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles women play an important role in the development of the plot. Shakespeare and Glaspell develop these women differently to enhance their message. In Othello, Emilia, Desdemona, and Bianca are all treated very poorly by their male counterparts.
Throughout history, men have always dominated. They never let a woman rise to power or have the same rights. This sexism has been ingrained in society for thousands of years, so much so that it has defined some of the most famous works of literature, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This play was written during the Elizabethan Era, an era in which a woman had all the power imaginable (Queen Elizabeth), and yet, women were still severely discriminated against. Women had no say whatsoever in their society; they were not allowed to vote and they had very few legal rights (Papp, Joseph, Kirkland).
Sadly, according to Shakespeare, women weren't treated like human beings, they were viewed as objects or a man’s property. They were often judged and compared to one another based on their looks. Husbands or families would oftentimes show off their wives or daughters and take pride in her beauty. An example of this is when Lord Capulet was arranging a marriage between Paris and Juliet; he didn’t talk about Juliet’s personality, he talked about her looks.
Many female critics have looked towards The Wife of Bath as a feminist role model (Reisman) She wanted authority over her five husbands, “She’d been respectable throughout her life, with five churched husbands bringing joy and strife, Not counting other company in her youth;” (Chaucer, l. 459-461) In Othello, the society centered around the men having all the control over women except in their beds, which was when the women could take control. Othello uses his power to over Desdemona to mock her,“Ay, you did wish that I would make her turn. Sir, she can turn, and turn, and get go on, And turn again.
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.
Her sole aspiration is to impress and please him. "Heaven knows, not I; I nothing but to please his fantasy. " she said as she theif on Desdemona’s handkerchief. This great love, which is a redeeming trait in her personality and morality. Despite of her affection, she eventually recognizes Iago’s disinterest towards her and inequality in their marriage.
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.
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 way these women act and conduct themselves is unquestionably related to the ideological expectations of Elizabethan and patriarchal society. Desdemona, Othello 's wife and Brabantio 's daughter, is represented as the ideal woman. So she would never be disloyal to her husband. On many occasions, Desdemona obeys her husband firmly and calls herself obedient even after Othello hits her. She was loving and loyal to Othello and wishes a long marriage of prosperity and commitment that would lead to her ultimate happiness.