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Women Are Always Victims Because It Is Men Who Determine Social Organisation." Consider The Ways The Representation Of Men And Women In "Othello" Supports Or Challenges This Assumption.

1594 words - 6 pages

Women are usually but not always the only victims of the social organisation created by men. In Shakespeare's famous tragic drama, "Othello", numerous characters, both male and female, are represented negatively and through their suffering the audience feels sympathy towards them. Desdemona's rebellion against her family in eloping with Othello, a black army general, results in her untimely death. Emilia, on the other hand, is compliant, to the patriarchal society, to a point whereby she becomes an unwitting tool for her husband. Othello and Cassio are both represented as being outsiders. As a result of the xenophobia associated with the white hegemonic Venetian society, these men are made to feel vulnerable making them easy targets for Iago's manipulation. Therefore, even in this patriarchal society, the men, like the female characters, suffer as a result of their societies' values and morals.The objectification of Desdemona by other characters, demonstrates the marginalised status of women in Venetian society. Initially Desdemona would have been seen as a radical character by the patriarchal audience. She goes against her father and family, by eloping with Othello and then when he goes to Cyprus, she argues, successfully, to go to Cyprus with him, rather than being the traditional wife who stayed at home and waited for her husbands return. Ironically, the only male to treat Desdemona as an equal, is Othello, a male ostracised by the Venetian society, "Oh, my fair warrior!" The rest of the males objectify Desdemona for her beauty, labelling her as being the epitome of the 'perfect' woman according to Venetian views; "She is a most exquisite lady" and "she is indeed perfection." Therefore, Desdemona is only recognised by her husband as being an equal, who is also marginalised. As Othello is viewed as an outsider in Venetian society, Desdemona is also seen in the same marginalised status. Hence the emphasis on her beauty, and nothing else, by other males demonstrates the objectified role that women held in Venetian society.Desdemona's final submission to Othello at her death reveals the submissive nature that was expected of females in Venetian society. Although she was totally innocent, she blames herself for her own death, rather than faulting her husband. "Nobody - I myself - farewell" Her total submissiveness to Othello undermines any kind of independence and power she held at the beginning of the play, turning her into a submissive wife, conforming to Venetian ideology. Hence, the audience is able to see through Desdemona that the Venetian society is held firmly to traditional patriarchy, whereby she is seen as a mere trophy.Emilia, on the contrary to Desdemona at the start of the play, is completely compliant to patriarchal society. However, as a result of the social organisation, she too falls victim as she becomes an unwitting tool for her husband, Iago. Her submission to her husband demonstrates Venetian society's disempowerment of women,...

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