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Male Domination In Othello

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Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca are victims of a male dominated society. Discuss. Male domination in society is a stigma, which has always existed, and one that may not cease to exist. However, the difference does exist in the way the women of the different ages chose to accept such behaviour and render themselves victims of such circumstance. In relation to the Elizabethan period, and having the characters of Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca in mind it can be true to say it may have been harder for them not to accept it than it is today. In reality, it was not even noticed by some of the women and for the few who noticed it, they could do nothing more than accepting it as their fate and trying to live with it. In discussing the victimisation of the above named women in this male dominated society, both sides of the argument for each character would be explored with emphasis on their individual struggles for independence. The 'fair warrior' Desdemona as referred to by her husband Othello undoubtedly struggles throughout the play. From her struggle for independence from her father Brabantio, to the struggle for her life from her husband Othello. Shakespeare seems to deceive the audience to think that Desdemona may be one of his unique female characters who fight for the rights of women. ...read more.


She did not only get married out of her father's will but she married an African. This would have been extremely rare especially for someone of her social class. Finally, as she passes out her last response to Emilia when being asked who killed her 'I myself' shows her refusal to accept to be a victim of this male dominated society. Emilia is used by Shakespeare to balance the contrast between the other victims of this male dominance. That is, Desdemona the very chaste one and Bianca the prostitute. Emilia is one character who is not just a victim of this male dominated society but is clearly aware of her position. This is shown clearly in her relationship and attitude towards her husband Iago and her conversation with Desdemona. Emilia's marriage is one we see to lack some of the main components of holy matrimony, as Iago is neither protective nor loving to her. The few dialogues that she has with Iago are filled with scorn and insults. He says to her 'it is a common thing to have a foolish wife', This shows the standards which the men gave their wives. The use of Emilia by Iago as an instrument for destroying Desdemona's marriage and eventually her death is the peak of her victimisation. ...read more.


This generates insults not only from the men but also from her fellow woman. Emilia says to her 'O fie upon thee strumpet!' Her reply to this statement gains the sympathy of the audience as it indicates her struggle to be tagged as something beyond what she does. She says to her 'I am no strumpet, but of life as honest as you that thus abuse me.' On a deeper note, this may also be a confirmation of Iago's suspicion that Emilia may have had an affair with Othello. Bianca also has her time of rebellion when she tells Cassio 'if you'll come to supper tonight,you may;if you will not, come when you are next prepared for.' In this statement, she shows that she perceives a little power left in her possession regardless of how she is looked at in the society. Cassio's exit to run after her emphasises this point. And this may cause the audience to look at her with a little more respect. Ultimately, Shakespeare exposes the circumstances which the women in the Elizabethan period faces and also presents it in a way which shows his opposition to it. Furthermore, his use of these three characters who are of different social standings illustrates that no woman was free from being victimised in this male dominated society. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a good essay that considers the position of women in the play; given the topic, further contextual exploration could have been included as the issue being analysed is one that would be perceived very differently by different audiences - male and female - and audiences of different time periods.

At times the points could be better supported with evidence from the text, allowing for further language analysis.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 03/05/2013

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