This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

A Feminist Analysis Of Othello

1816 words - 7 pages

A Feminist Analysis of Othello  

In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Othello there are numerous instances of obvious sexism aimed at the three women in the drama -- Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca – and aimed at womankind generally. Let us delve into this subject in this paper.

In the essay “Wit and Witchcraft: an Approach to Othello” Robert B. Heilman discusses a scene which occurs late in the play and which is sexist:

When Othello summons Desdemona and dismisses Emilia, “Leave procreants alone . . .; / Cough or cry hem if anybody come. / Your mystery, your mystery! . . .” (IV.2.28-30), he not only dismisses Emilia, accuses Desdemona of infidelity, and betrays his own insane bitterness, but he converts the marriage into a brothel arrangement in which all three are involved, and by so doing establishes imaginative lines of connection with the role of Bianca and particularly with the Iago philosophy of sexual conduct. (331)

In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his hatred for the general Othello for his having chosen Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello: “Call up her father, / Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight [. . .].” Implied in this move is the fact of a father’s assumed control over the daughter’s choice of a marriage partner. Brabantio’s admonition to Roderigo implicitly expresses the same message:

The worser welcome:

     I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:

     In honest plainness thou hast heard me say

     My daughter is not for thee [. . .] . (1.1)

Iago’s continuing earthy appraisals of the situation all seem to bestow upon the father the power to make decisions for the daughter. Roderigo even calls Desdemona’s action a “revolt” against paternal authority: “Your daughter, if you have not given her leave, /  I say again, hath made a gross revolt [. . .] .” Upon verifying the absence of his daughter from the home, Brabantio exhorts all fathers to “trust not” their daughters, indicating an alleged predisposition among young ladies to rebel against authority:

     O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood!

     Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds

     By what you see them act. (1.1)

Othello, the general and protagonist, seems initially to be totally lacking in sexism. He loves Desdemona as an equal and accepts her with no preconditions:

As this that I have reach'd: for know, Iago,

     But that I love the gentle Desdemona,

     I would not my unhoused free condition

     Put into circumscription and confine

     For the sea's worth. (1.2)

With the Turkish campaign against Cyprus in motion, the Duke of Venice scarcely has time for Brabantio’s protestations. And the First Senator encourages...

Find Another Essay On A Feminist Analysis of Othello

An Analysis of Feminist Articles

1173 words - 5 pages critical essays by William S. Woods, Charles Huchet and Michelle Freeman. Each critic has a different interpretation on what aspects of her writing make Marie de France a feminist writer. In his article, "Femininity in the Lais of Marie de France," Woods focuses on Marie's writing style and her "evident [femininity] in every aspect of the text," (qtd. in Kinoshita 263). Woods argues Marie de France's feminine voice is apparent in her writing

Analysis of Othello

607 words - 2 pages hero but have a tragic flaw that is to blame. The character Othello is considered as the tragic hero in Shakespeare play. Othello is a moor and a general in Venetian army. Othello is experienced in battle and valued by the people. Since he is such a well-respected military leader, the people listened and cared about what he had to say. One instance of his high regard can be seen when one of the senators said, “Here comes Barbantio and the valiant

"Shakespeare: A 17th century progressive" (Analysis of Othello)

869 words - 3 pages monarch? I should venture purgatory for't" (IV, iii, 72-73.). Emelia makes a risk - reward analysis and decides that there are circumstances in which she would cheat on her husband, such a willingness is at odds with the standards of the time.Women during the time of Othello were expected to be servile to their fathers and then after marriage to their husbands. Desdemona was not servile to her father, marrying without his permission and also committing

A Comparison of Feminist Writings

902 words - 4 pages against the social norms of their time period and did what they felt was best for them. They no longer felt it necessary to live under the oppressive control of their husbands. Works Cited Baseer, Abdul; Alvi, Sofia Dildar; Zafran, Fareha. "The Use of Symbolic Language in Ibsen's A Doll's House: A Feministic Perspective."Language In India13.3 (2013): 622. LINCC. Web. 06 Apr. 2014. Smith, Nicole. http://www.articlemyriad.com/literary-analysis

A Summary of Othello

1897 words - 8 pages Written by William Shakespeare, “Othello” is a twisted tale of deceit and betrayal that turned a beautiful love into a murderous plot due to outside jealousy. The play begins in with Iago and Rodrigo arguing in Venice. Iago is a soldier who is under Othello’s command and Rodrigo has been paying him to spy on Othello because he wishes to be with Desdemona, Othello’s lover. Rodrigo believes that Iago is loyal to Othello and has not been keeping

A Feminist and Structuralist Analysis of "Phenomenal Woman" - University of Mindanao, Literary Criticism - Research Paper

1411 words - 6 pages Dennie Belle G. Valle August 8, 2017 AB-English English 29- Literary Criticism (3rd Exam) “A Feminist and Structural Analysis” Phenomenal Woman BY MAYA ANGELOU Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.  I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size    But when I start to tell them,  They think I’m telling lies.  I say,  It’s in the reach of my arms,  The span of my hips,    The stride of my step,    The curl of my lips.    I’m a

An Analysis of Shakespeare's Othello

3189 words - 13 pages inquires (5.2.133). She has to know the truth, “Nobody, I myself. Farewell. Commend me to my kind lord. O, farewell” (5.2.134-135). As the saying goes, hindsight is always twenty-twenty. For Desdemona, this is especially true. Desdemona was innocent and naïve to a fault. Her determination to mend the relationship between Cassio and Othello, only served to nourish the seed of doubt that was planted in Othello’s mind by Iago. Like everyone else in

Othello - Analysis of Iago's Motives

1242 words - 5 pages Othello is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, Poet and Playwright, in the 1600's. Iago is a major character pivotal to the story's outcome and development. He is the main antagonist of the play, but not pure evil; displaying multiple personality traits including villainous, jocular, and deceptive qualities amalgamating into an identity generally perceived to be wicked. His basic aim is to destroy the lives of Othello and to a certain

feminist analysis of the story "Changes"

999 words - 4 pages pretending to be consoling her. Ali on the other hand married Esi because of her beauty even though he had a wife who abandoned her education and career to marry him, and after he married Esi, he was again attracted to her new secretary. Aidoo does this to show how men can be unfaithful and selfish at times. From the above analysis of the story, we can see that it was written from a feminist perspective looking at how the women are portrayed compared to the men. In this light we can conclude by saying that the story “Changes” does appeals to women than it does to men.

Analyzing the Heroics of Samus through Cambell's A Hero's Journey, Jung's archetypes and Feminist Analysis

2672 words - 11 pages , protagonist of the Metroid series, was indeed female. For the purpose of this paper, we’ll analyze the heroics of Samus through three distinct analytical lenses: The Hero’s Journey (from Joseph Campbell), Carl Jung’s archetypes, and through feminist analysis. Of course, to learn more about our heroine, we must first find out what drives her, what makes her tick, and her purpose as a bounty hunter. The story of Metroid stretches along 11 games

A Journey into Drama: An Analysis of Setting in Feminist Plays

1220 words - 5 pages The treatment of women in the modern era has come quite far compared to recent history. This is shown in numerous works of art of the feminist age of fiction. In the three works: Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, the setting and the home in which the women are depicted in play a major connecting symbolic role within the feminist plays. The setting

Similar Essays

A Feminist Reading Of Othello Essay

1151 words - 5 pages Question: Why is Othello relevant today?Othello is relevant today because of its ability to be interpreted from different perspectives and have different readings applied to it. One such reading is the Feminist reading.The opening scenes of Othello establish firm Gender identities, and a patriarchal context for the play. The Gender identities are established in the way Othello's speaks about of his wooing of Desdemona, where he says,"...her

A Feminist Perspective Of Othello Essay

2534 words - 10 pages A Feminist Perspective of  Othello      Throughout the length of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello there is a steady undercurrent of sexism. It is originating from not one, but rather various male characters in the play, who manifest prejudicial, discriminatory attitudes toward women.   In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his hatred for the general Othello for his having chosen Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he

Two Interpretations Of Othello: A Feminist Reading, And A Reading Based On Class And Power

1434 words - 6 pages , to Desdemona's trivial persistence and Iago's sinister and deadly plotting. Modern audiences, too, have certain expectations and ideas about the play, and it is vital, when producing a play like Othello to take these expectations into consideration. For these reasons, I am proposing two potential readings, or interpretations of the play, a feminist reading and a reading based on the themes of class and power.FEMINIST READINGA feminist reading

A Feminist Analysis Of Snow, Fire, Sword

2104 words - 8 pages : Random House Australia. Brannon, L. (2011). Gender Stereotypes: Masculinity and Femininity. Gender: Psychological perspectives (6th ed.). Campbell, C. A. (2009). Heroes and Heroines: A Feminist Analysis of Female Child Protagonist in the Epic Fantasies of George, Macdonald, C.S. Lewis, and Philip Pullman. Double negative - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_negative Kristia