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

Othello by William Shakespeare is a story in which the women characters are treated in the unfair way that women of the time of the story were treated

Extracts from this document...


Othello - Women Throughout history, the treatment of women has been an ever-changing issue. Othello by William Shakespeare is a story in which the women characters are treated in the unfair way that women of the time of the story were treated. This makes the story a great model for comparison of the treatment of women in the present time and in the past time when the story takes place. In order to make this comparison, one must first examine the way that the characters of Bianca, Emelia, and Desdemona are treated. Although Othello is set in Venice and Cyprus, the attitudes and values shared in the text are probably reflective of the attitudes and values of Shakespeare's own society. We are given an insight into those attitudes and values through the representation of race and 'gender' in the text of Othello. These attitudes and values are indicative of what a culture believes in and supports. Attitudes and values about gender are also revealed in the portrayal of women and their actions in the text. A prime example of this is when Desdemona elopes with Othello without her father's permission, which during that time would have been socially unacceptable. This is revealed to us through Brabantio's reaction as Shakespeare uses Brabantio as a representation of higher society's views on matters. ...read more.


Emilia within this book had the most respect for Desdemona. In Act 5, Emilia shows one last act of loyalty to Desdemona. 'Lay me by my mistress's side and sing the willow song' Emilia shows herself as strong women arguing with Othello, 'What such a fool do with so good a wife' Here we can see the comparison of both her good and strong side. At one stage of the play Emila gives Iago Desdemona's handkerchief to please her husband and make him happy with her. It also was the way women were expected to behave. Inevitably emila dies at the end. It is foreseeable that the way in which iago treats her throughout the play. 'so speaking as I think,I die,I die' Everyone including her husband, Cassio, treats the character of Bianca unfairly. This is because Bianca is really in love with Cassio, however he can only see the relationship as being a physical one. Due to this, Cassio has no problem making fun of Bianca behind her back when she leaves, and then wooing her when she returns again. 'tis but a little what that I can bring you, for I attend here; but ill see you soon.' Desdemona is the last of the characters to evaluate, however she is also the most important. ...read more.


Desdemona's mother plays no part in the story of the courtship and marriage to Othello, and Desdemona speaks and acts as a woman alone, who takes full responsibility for her decisions. Desdemona sings the "Willow Song," and, in this indirect way, she faces the real possibility that Othello is going mad and will desert her and that she may die of a broken heart. Ironically after saying this story to the maid she dies herself. Emilia and Desdemona make a clear contrast in their approach to marriage and fidelity. Desdemona is a romantic who has married for love and values loyalty absolutely. Emilia has a practical intelligence and assesses each situation to decide which the best course of action is. She thinks that a wife's infidelity is a serious matter, only to be undertaken for good solid reasons of advantage: "who would not make her husband a cuckold, to make him a monarch?" The other reason for a wife to be unfaithful is in reaction to the husband's misbehavior or maltreatment: "But I do think it is their husbands' faults / If wives do fall" Emilia's speech at the end of Act IV on the faults of husbands neatly balances Iago's speech in Act II on the faults of wives. Both speeches were heard by Desdemona, who dismisses them as not relating to her and her love. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Othello essays

  1. Given the way women were expected to behave in Shakespeare’s day, what is your ...

    This is shown when she is telling her father why she married Othello. Women were not supposed to disobey their father's wishes. In Desdemona's case this is that she was not to continue her marriage, as it was a disgrace against Venetians.

  2. A Comparison of Women in Shakespeare's Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer ...

    Upon this hint I spake. (I.iii.183, 190-3). She even boasts that it was love that drew her to him: That I love the Moor to live with him, My downright violence, and storm of fortunes, May trumpet to the world.

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