• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Shakespeare presents independent strong- willed women in Othello. Consider significance of these two statements how do you think Shakespeare presents women in the play?

Extracts from this document...


Fryer "Desdemona and Emilia are passive women who are told what to do by their men." "Shakespeare presents independent strong- willed women in Othello." Consider significance of these two statements how do you think Shakespeare presents women in the play? Desdemona and Emilia although at times appear subservient to their husbands it is mostly done out of love and willingness to please. Indeed both women are passive victims of the male characters within the play. After all it is "out of her own goodness" that Desdemona enabled Iago to " make the net" that was unfortunately to "enmesh them all." (II.3 351) Although passive, both women have the articulation to express themselves and voice their opinion, thus reflecting, as often is the case in his plays, Shakespeare's presentation of strong-willed women. At first we hear the other characters speak of Desdemona as a, 'daughter' who has fallen into the "clasps of a lascivious Moor" (I.i 127) giving the impression of a young naive girl who has succumbed to the lustful charms of Othello. However, Desdemona is "half the wooer," who ran away from her father's house to marry him. Indeed, her first speech quite clearly supports the opposite and presents a supremely independent mature female, who is fully aware of her feelings and deep love for her husband, " I do perceive here a divided duty............But here's my husband." ...read more.


In act II both Desdemona and Emilia are quick to defend themselves and their sex when Iago crudely attacks females as " wild-cats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries,devils being offended.............in your beds." (II.i 110) Emilia informs Iago " You shall not write my praise." Furthermore, Desdemona dismisses Iago's, boorish and lewd attack as "heavy ignorance" and his views of women as a "most lame and impotent conclusion!" Indeed she is quick to advise to her female companion, "Do not learn from him, Emilia, though he be thy husband," revealing again her strong-willed nature. This bawdy exchange between Desdemona and Iago has been viewed as controversial as some critics are uncomfortable with Desdemona participation. However, Shakepeare needed to convey her playful sexuality as Desdemona's sexual attractiveness is paramount to the plot, as it is this that leads Othello to question her fidelity. Desdemona has to defend herself constantly throughout the play. Firstly to her father for her choice of marrying Othello and then almost immediately she is put in the position of having to defend her fidelity to her husband. It is ironic that at the beginning of the play she is presented as a strong independent person but then has to convince her husband she in not too independent. ...read more.


(V.I 122) Although the women are passive victims in the play it is noteworthy that Bianca the least powerful figure is ironically the only female survivor. Another display of Desdemona's strength of character is when Othello publicly hits her, rightly affirming, " I have not deserved this." However, Desdemona instead of staying and pleading more strongly of her innocence rather submissively leaves, " I will not stay to offend you." (IV.1) Without question, it is in the final two acts that Shakespeare strongly portrays Desdemona as a passive and loyal wife to her husband. She becomes almost resigned to her fate and prophetically pleads in the 'willow song' Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve." (IV.3) Moreover, even on her deathbed she tries to save Othello from blame, "Nobody - I myself - farewell." To conclude, Shakespeare presents the women in his play as hapless victims of the male characters in the play. He conveys their genuine love and loyalty to their respective partners, yet gives them a voice to speak of feminist issues. It is Shakespeare's portrayal of strong - willed women that probably has made his plays, and will continue to make his plays popular with audiences. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. Free essay

    Do you think this is how Shakespeare wanted to portray or present the character?Samuel ...

    His naive character is forced by Iago to feel an obsessive hatred and jealousy which transforms his use of language into harsh, intense and violent - "Damn her, lewd minx: O damn her, damn her!" (3.iii.472). Iago's speech is rigid, repetitive and cuts directly to the point, leaving the

  2. Explore how Shakespeare presents Iago as an evil villain

    act upon his own will, this highlights the distinct difference between Iago's actions and the actions of the other characters within the play, distinguishing a factor separating good from evil. Iago supposedly has the answers to everyone's problems; he presents himself as an advisor, disguising his true intentions and creating a trustee and confidant for the other characters.

  1. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare presents the changed character of Othello.

    The large number of interrogative sentences shows Othello's weakness and confusion whereas the number of exclamative sentences shows Othello's raw emotion and distress. In previous situations when we have expected Othello to be distressed e.g. the confrontation with Brabantio explored above, he has acted calmly and rationally.

  2. Explain how you think Act 3 affects the audience(TM)s feelings about Othello.

    Consequently here he is able to weaken links between Othello and loyal Cassio. Othello can very much, become moulded into the victim of Iago as his strong and sovereign nature is destroyed. This affects the audience very much so as it is a given that we would feel compassion for the tragic hero, Othello.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work