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Treatment Of Women In Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Frankenstein, And Othello

1911 words - 8 pages

When we consider the patriarchal societies presented in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams (1954), Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) and Othello by William Shakespeare (1602), and attempt to draw conclusions between them, perhaps due to the two-hundred years passing amid the texts, the patriarchal society presented in Othello, one which values bravery and honour, as seen in act I scene II, by Othello ascribing Desdemona’s love of him as owing to the “battles, sieges, fortunes that I have pass’d”; contrasts with that shown in Frankenstein, whereby, as Dr Siv Jannsson comments, Shelley reveals the, “confrontation between a scientific pursuit as seen as masculine and a feminine nature which is perverted and destroyed by masculinity”2. Consequently, these differences allow us to establish how far the treatment imposed upon women in the texts, is due to the differing patriarchal societies presented by the writers, or whether the suffering of the women, is caused by the individual dispositions of the male and female characters. Yet, what makes this question so intriguing is that, despite the age gap between the texts, each writer presents universal truths about human nature, jealousy and ambition. In contrast to Othello and Frankenstein, whose main female protagonists are relatively ineffectual; Williams presents Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as a strong woman enduring the patriarchal society, yet simultaneously challenging it to save her husband, Brick, from his flaw of alcoholism.
Equally, through Othello in Othello and Victor in Frankenstein, the two writers reveal flaws in their individual dispositions; this leads us to question the extent to which the patriarchal societies have shaped the character’s flaw, and thus determining which of these two are more significant in their contribution to the treatment of woman. If we consider act III scene III of Othello, Othello is warned by Iago, to beware of “jealousy, it is the green-eyed monster”, perhaps it is through his flaw of jealousy, that Shakespeare reveals the impetus for the treatment of woman, rather than the influence of a patriarchal society upon Othello’s actions. However, as much of stimulus the for Othello’s flaw is stemmed from Iago, as seen in act IV scene I, whereby he appeals to this jealousy by suggesting that Desdemona is “naked with her friend in bed”, perhaps this implies that Shakespeare weighs more importance on the patriarchal society, as seen by Othello’s trust for the male, Iago, over the female, Desdemona as the contributor to feminine suffering, than opposed to the individual dispositions being solely independent.
Shelley however, although like Shakespeare, it could be argued that she uses Victor’s flaw of ambition to be cause of the female deaths in the novel, as is the opinion of Dr Siv Jannsson, “Elizabeth’s death literally becomes a sacrifice at the alter of [Victor’s] ambitions”5, perhaps, in contrast to Shakespeare, she uses Victor’s flaw to highlight...

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