Fifty Fifty Othello Essay On Feminism

1561 words - 6 pages

Malik 5Usman MalikMs. CampbellENG4UN-0615 July, 2014Fifty-FiftyThroughout human history, the state of affairs regarding the female gender has drastically changed. In William Shakespeare's Othello, we are presented with multiple characters that challenge societal gender roles and expectations during the Elizabethan patriarchal society. The gender roles of woman have only started to improve relatively recently, so when the woman in Othello (a play written in the 17th century) are able to defy and question the societal norms regarding gender, it becomes all the more effective. Over the course of Othello, the characters of Desdemona, Bianca and Emilia are viewed as essential components of the plot and mediums through which powerful messages regarding gender equality are relayed through.The first female character that comes to mind in Othello is Desdemona, and rightfully so considering she is the subject of Othello's jealousy and downfall. On paper, Desdemona appears to be rather subdued, a product of venetian society whose only purpose in the play is as a plot device to lead to the tragic end of Othello. On a closer look, however, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary. One such proof is before the play begins, when Desdemona marries Othello without her father's consent. Brabantio, of course is angry and goes to the Duke about this heinous act. Desdemona testifies for herself without the help of a man and says "So much I challenge that I profess due to the Moor my Lord."(I.iii.187-188) This line reveals that Desdemona freely chose to marry Othello. To marry a man without a fathers consent, especially an outsider would be blasphemous in Elizabethan times, yet Desdemona perused her love and a result broke the expectations of a typical daughter of Elizabethan times as woman were considered the property of their fathers until wed, the fathers would use a suitable groom but Desdemona chose her own. Brabantio is not the only man Desdemona can stand against however, Desdemona proves that she can stand up to Othello as well. This is seen when Desdemona tries to convince Othello to reinstate Cassio as lieutenant, which reveals how Desdemona has some power over Othello if she believes she can convince him. Even Iago states "Our general's wife is the general now."(II.ii.288-289),which reveals that Desdemona has influence over her husband. Desdemona is rather persistent, even while Othello is getting increasingly angrier. An average woman at the time would not approach her husband to begin with for such a problem, let alone persistently ask for the same thing over and over again, once again showing how Desdemona is able to stand up to men to get what she wants. Desdemona once shows courage and stubbornness in the final act, Desdemona claims innocence until the very end against Othello's rage She never once admits to her supposed sin. Desdemona says "No, by my life and soul!"(V.ii.48) in response to Othello's accusations. Desdemona could have...

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