Balance And Tragedy In Shakespeare's Othello

2080 words - 8 pages

Mohandas K. Gandhi once proclaimed, “There is no occasion for women to consider themselves subordinate or inferior to men” (Gandhi n.p.). Women all throughout the world have been forced to endure innumerable hardships and struggles. Merely accepting women as a rightful component of society and a necessary aspect of culture has taken countless numbers of years. And to this day, unfortunately, gender equality has yet to become a reality for many. Certain judgments and stereotypes have been placed onto women from the very beginning of time. The belief that the female gender should only be seen in society as homemakers is something that is widely accepted by people in a multitude of countries and places. Despite the setbacks, various women have felt the need to fight for their rights and prove that they are an extremely crucial part of all societies. In the nineteenth century, the Cult of Domesticity, also known as the Cult of True Womanhood, was founded. It created specific rules that women in the United States and Great Britain were expected to follow. How well one obeyed the rules of the Cult of Domesticity dictated her reputation among fellow citizens (“From Domestic…” n.p.). The strict guidelines often had negative effects on individuals and prevented them from acting in an honest manner. In Othello, Shakespeare created the character of Emilia to perfectly represent the struggles women faced with fitting into their roles in society. The few female characters in the play were all shown in very different lights in order to demonstrate the varying types of women that could be seen in a normal society during that time. In William Shakespeare’s work Othello, Emilia’s imbalance of logic and emotion, a result of the pressures from the Cult of True Womanhood, contributed to the presence of tragedy in the play.
The character of Emilia is introduced in the play as one who seems to fit in well with the stereotypes and expectations for females in the seventeenth century. From the beginning, Emilia can be seen as one who is entirely loyal and faithful to her husband, Iago. Under the Cult of Domesticity it would be downright unacceptable for a woman to defy her husband. Women were considered to be subservient to almost the entire male gender. Emilia’s husband, Iago, was a character who most would admit did not deserve much respect or loyalty at all. Iago would continuously use his wit and intelligence to manipulate others only to further his own position in society. Iago, with a great lack of sympathy for those he was hurting, focused solely on reaching his end goal of self-glorification. Despite Emilia’s dissatisfaction with her marriage, she managed to maintain composure in the beginning of the play. At one point in Act II, Iago makes a bold claim stating that women, including Emilia, only speak their minds when the men are no longer present. He believes they would not dare defy the rules of society in front of others. However, in...

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