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Explore Bradley’s and Neeley’s interpretation of gender in Othello. Explain how much you agree or disagree.

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Introduction

´╗┐Explore Bradley?s and Neeley?s interpretation of gender in Othello. Explain how much you agree or disagree. Neely believes the central conflict in the play is between men and women, Bradley between Iago and Othello. I personally believe Neely is closer of the two as ?Othello? is very much about men?s failure to see women as human beings and not as objects. Othello is a play concerned with the relationships between men and women and the gender issues of both sexes, yet for many years critics have only analysed the male side of the play, or as Bradley has done, concentrated upon the lead characters: Iago and Othello. In ?Othello? the main problems come from the men?s need to keep up their ?appearances? and their capability to lose sight of those around them and perhaps more damagingly lose sight of themselves. Critics it seems also on the whole do not understand the female characters presented so skilfully by Shakespeare and also tend to objectify them. Bradley idealises and demeans Desdemona jointly by saying she is ?helplessly passive? as ?the most loving of dumb animals? and fails to go much further into her character. Bradley also speaks from a time of assumed gentility referring to sexual jealousy as a ?distaste? and is seemingly shocked that ?men as well as women? suffer from it. ...read more.

Middle

Neeley talks at some length of Desdemona?s power within the marriage stating ?Othello is awed by her power to move man and beast? yet also adds that her energy and ?power are made possible by Othello?s loving response?. I would agree with this argument as what little power Desdemona had within the relationship is lost when Othello?s love for her is undone. It could be said that Emilia has even less control within her relationship to Iago, indeed many believe that this relationship is the most typical of the three in the play. Many critics see her surrender of Desdemona?s handkerchief to Iago as a choice between her mistress, who indeed is closer to her throughout the play and her husband, who she should traditionally should be loyal to. Neeley sees Emilia giving the handkerchief to Iago as ?placing her loyalty to her husband above her affection for Desdemona.? Although I agree that picking it up for Iago makes her subservient I believe that she doesn?t have the power within the relationship to make the question ?what will you do with it?? (3.iii.319) a condition of surrendering it. I feel more inclined to go with Bradley?s argument here as he states that Emilia thought of Iago as ?odd and wayward? to want Desdemona?s handkerchief ?but ...read more.

Conclusion

Venetian society, and Bradley, does not see or understand that Othello may not be able to stop killing or judging off the battlefield so at the end of the play the blame is divided between Iago and fate and the bodies are hidden. Bradley as a critic also lays the blame firmly on the ?evil? Iago and his ?fortune? seeing the strength of the women in the play only at the point of their deaths, Desdemona showing ?beauty? and Emilia ?brings us too the relief of joy and admiration.? He goes as far to say that if ?nothing in life became her (Emilia) like loosing it? which clearly shows that he does not understand that Emilia?s greatest moment of courage was not in dying but in betraying, justly, her husband. Neeley sees the ending of the play as I do, not a crescendo of virtue found but full of ?pain and division.? The final speech does not look back over the play nor does it look forward, it takes the audience away from the love of Desdemona and Othello into state matters and Iago?s punishment. The marriage bed ?poisons sight? (5.ii.365) as it is love and fertility corrupted from which nothing can be learnt as the order ?let it be hid? (5.ii.366) denies all. Alice MacGregor Haywood Word count: 2,149 ...read more.

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