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Discuss the role of women in the play Othello.

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Joanne Ritter Discuss the role of women in the play Othello. The three women in the play are all victims of some kind, regarded by most of the men as 'only good for one thing'. It is also true to say that the women fall into one of two categories or stereotypes - the innocent saintly women and the whoreish seductress. Bianca - the first of the women I will discuss in the essay, fits easily into the latter category. Bianca is a prostitute and very fond of Cassio, who tends to ignore her and treat her badly. We get a clear picture of how Bianca is regarded by the men in the play when Cassio says to Iago about marrying her (act4 scence1) - 'I marry her? What? A customer! Prithee bear some charity to my wit; do not think it so unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha!' He clearly does not love her or ever intend on marrying her and is using her only for sex, but it is obviouse that Bianca loves him as her distress at his absence shows - '...lovers' absent hours More tediouse than the dial eight score times? ...read more.


He cruely shows her up in front of everyone(Act2 Scene1). Iago's opinion of women is made blatantly obviouse when he says - 'You (women) rise to play, and go to bed to work.' Although Emilia married to this man must put up with this kind of abuse regularily she is by no means quiet or timid. Emilia is direct and confident, she speaks her mind in standing up too Iago and Othello. Emilia is one of the most sensable characters in the play and she is feircly loyal to her misstress, betraying her husband and revealing his foul plans to split up Desdemona and Othello. When she finds out that Othello has killed Desdemona she says - 'O more the angel she, And you the blacker devil.' She defends Desdemona untill she herslef is killed by her husband for revealing all that he has done. She is told by iago to 'charm your toungue' to which sher replies 'I will not charm my tongue; I am bound to speak: My mistress here lies murdered in her bed.' ...read more.


O farewell.' She does not question anything Othello does. Desdemona's role is clearly to obey and please her husband. It is clear that in the times that this play was set the woman's place in society was to obey their husbands, and be faithful and pure. It is somewhat ironic that women like Desdemona are prefered by the men because she is godlly and pure, yet Bianca is not respected because she is a whore although Cassio is free to sleep with who ever he wants with no respect lost. In both cases above the women's disobedience to their husbands resulted in their death. Althoug we do not discover what becomes of Bianca it is safe to assume that she continues her life in the same fashion with a continued amount of disrespect from the male characters. It is sad to conclude that the role of the women in the play was as objects to their male partners, and that they depend completely on their male husbands and partners to maintain their status. Desdemona and Emilia's deaths in the end are all at the hands of the husbands to whom they were faithful and obidient. ...read more.

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