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Explain how the men and women in Shakespeare's Othello misunderstand each other.

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Men and Women relationships in Othello Explain how the men and women in Shakespeare's Othello misunderstand each other. Analysing the male and female relationships in William Shakespeare's Othello it is clear the sexes fail to understand each other, particularly on the men's part. Whilst the women are more mature and tend to overestimate the men, the men are consumed by their vanity and reputation and cannot accept women honestly. Desdemona and Othello's lack of understanding for each other contributes to their miscommunication. Othello cannot fully trust Desdemona because his love his too idealistic and he fails to comprehend her honest and realistic approach to love: She loved me for the dangers I had passed And I loved her that she did pity them. This implies that Desdemona's affections fuel his ego and he loves her for this more than anything else. Othello's worshipping of Desdemona prohibits him from truly understanding her: O my fair warrior! ...If it were now to die, 'Twere to be most happy; for I fear My soul hath her content so absolute That not another comfort succeeds in unknown fate." He does not perceive her as human and capable of fault: ...And when I love thee not, chaos is come again. ...read more.


He clearly does not understand his daughter well for we soon see she is strong and assertive: That I did love the Moor to live with him. My downright violence and scorn... May trumpet to the world." Throughout the play Roderigo's behaviour is a prime example of how the men view the women as possessions. Hopelessly romanticising Desdemona, (who is not aware of his existence, let alone his love for her) he relentlessly pursues her attempting to purchase her through Iago: Therefore make money... I'll sell all my land. Iago speaks of Othello's marriage in terms of piracy and of Desdemona as a treasure ship, reinforcing his ideas of women as possessions: ...he hath tonight boarded a land-carack. Interestingly, Emilia comments on this weakness of all men. In contrast to the men's complete misconceptions about women, Emilia shows awareness and perceptiveness of the opposite sex. She does understand that men stereotype women and forget they have their own minds: ...Let husbands know their wives have sense like them: they see and smell, And have palates for both sweet and sour As husbands have. She recognises the jealousy of men's natures. They are not ever jealous for the cause, But jealous for they are jealous. ...read more.


"Villainous whore!" (He stabs her.) With Iago's manipulation, Othello adopts these views and his 'divine' Desdemona falls straight from Madonna to whore. She has tainted his reputation and wounded his ego, (or so he believes) and he must kill her before she corrupts other men. "Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men." His words to her become bitter and scathing: I took you for that cunning whore of Venice That married with Othello. The combination of their honour and misunderstanding of women makes the men easily jealous. We see this in their quickness to damn their wives as adulteresses without concrete evidence. Othello is so distrusting, the absence of a handkerchief becomes the 'ocular' proof, when ironically he has seen nothing. His jealousy makes him willing to condemn. "Damn her, lewd minx!" Iago also accuses his wife with unfounded suspicion of sleeping with Cassio and Othello: He's done my office. I know not if it be true, But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety." The men and women in Othello do not understand each other. The men's preoccupation with honour and romantic ideals of love, leads them to misunderstand women viewing them as either whores or Madonnas and possessions for men. The women, in contrast, are more mature and realistic. However women such as Desdemona overestimate the men and are unable to empathise with their attitudes, or recognise their jealous natures. ...read more.

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