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

Othello has been called a ‘domestic tragedy’. What part do the three women play in the drama and how should they be portrayed in order to achieve maximum impact for a modern audience?

Extracts from this document...


Othello has been called a 'domestic tragedy'. What part do the three women play in the drama and how should they be portrayed in order to achieve maximum impact for a modern audience? A domestic tragedy takes place in a personal setting. In Othello, the men are in Cyprus to fight a war. However, the tragedy is the events within the relationships of the central characters. There is little discussion of the war and, although Desdemona blames state matters for Othello's change in behaviour, the real problems Othello faces are matters of the heart. The women in the play have no part in the war, but still their presence contributes to the downfall of both Othello and Iago, creating repercussions for the state. The historical context of the play is important when considering the female characters contained in it. The play was first performed in 1604 at the start of the reign of King James I. It is generally thought that wives were expected to be obedient to their husbands at this time, and play the "maiden never bold", as Desdemona is described by her father in Act One, scene three. However, the time of the play's first performance was shortly after the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth never married and is known to have been of strong character. It is therefore likely that a strong-willed female character would have been accepted by an audience of this time. A feature of the play that should be considered is the misogyny shown by the male characters. ...read more.


She is also more cynical and far less romantic in her views. In her conversation with Desdemona about unfaithful women, she openly admits that she would be unfaithful to her husband if the whole world were her reward. Lianne Evans "who would not make her husband a cuckold, to make him a monarch?" Emilia knows that love and men are not as ideal as Desdemona believes them to be. When Othello's behaviour towards Desdemona changes, Emilia, unlike Desdemona realises that something is wrong with the relationship and that Desdemona should not let Othello treat her in such a way. "I would you had never seen him." She stands for strength and common sense, and her views about marriage show this clearly. "Let husbands know Their wives have sense like them". Bianca represents a quite impure love within Othello. She shows that she loves Cassio, but her lifestyle as a prostitute also shows this as quite corrupt. She represents the opposite of the innocent and na�ve Desdemona. She is a woman with no responsibility to anyone but herself in the play. She has a relationship with Cassio but her reputation does not allow this to be taken seriously by anyone, including Cassio himself. She represents a love with few morals. Desdemona believes in completely faithful, perfect love, Emilia believes that being unfaithful is acceptable for a large price and Bianca, although she seems to care greatly about Cassio, has still made her living as a prostitute. ...read more.


In general, a modern audience can sympathise with all the women in the play. All, despite their strengths, suffer at the hands of the men in their lives. Desdemona's unfaltering belief in pure love only results in Othello's killing her. Emilia's loyalty and strength leads her to being murdered, also by her own husband. Bianca's love for Cassio only brings her ridicule. In a modern society this supports the radical feminist view that no relationship with a man is beneficial to a woman. Each woman displays different feminine qualities. Desdemona's approach is obedience, Emilia's is loyalty and Bianca's, persistence, but none of these bring them any rewards. The women in Othello are so often misunderstood. The majority of criticism on the play is written by males and there is very little comment on the female characters at all. This has led to difficulty in performing these characters to create a Lianne Evans maximum impact with a modern audience. However, their roles are clear. They all show the negative qualities in the male characters, but at the same time have an effect on their lives. The play is a domestic tragedy but the effects of the domestic lives of the characters are shown in all aspects of their lives. The misunderstanding of Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca, within the play and in audiences has led to misinterpretations of their characters. To create a maximum impact with a modern audience, the female characters need to be given their own personality, and the effects they have need to be shown. Without the women going to war with their husbands, the tragedy of Othello would be a very different one. ...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. Is Othello a 'noble hero' brought down by 'a devil of motiveless malignity' or ...

    Iago and Roderigo have completely directed all of his anger off them, so much that he trusts them to help him. Roderigo next insults Barbantio by pretending that he is not sure if Barbantio has given his permission of this match.

  2. 'Othello': A Tragedy of Deception or a Tragedy of Self-deception? Depicting the downfall ...

    As the play progresses, Shakespeare portrays Iago's execution of his plan to manipulate Othello and achieve his sworn revenge. Act Three Scene Three illustrates a crucial part of this process, as Iago employs several persuasive techniques in order to convince Othello of his wife's infidelity.

  1. Othello Dramatic Impact Essay

    This tells us that Othello may know he is uneducated compared to these men and knows nothing but to be a soldier. This of course, as Aristotle said, is his 'flaw' which will echo throughout the rest of the play.

  2. Explore in detail how Iago has brought about the change in Othello's relationship with ...

    At the start of Act 3 Scene 3, Cassio is first mentioned to Othello by Desdemona to play with his mind (non intentionally of course). His tone in this scene tells us that he is annoyed with her constant pester and her interest in Cassio by calling her an "Excellent wench", but he "do love thee" still.

  1. It has been observed that men in Othello are portrayed as being incapable of ...

    At the start of the play Emilia is ostensibly loyal and obedient, however, this changes and by the end of the play she becomes the voice of reason that stops Iago's evil progress. Emilia believes that women are individuals who have desires just as men, showing her realistic approach to life.

  2. Why did the marriage of Othello and Desdemona end in tragedy?

    one of his soldiers so that after he comes back to Cyprus he greets her with: "O, my fair warrior". Desdemona is little more than a girl, inexperienced in the ways of the world and she is taken in by Othello's war stories and then falls in love with him: "She loved me for the dangers I has passed".

  1. Analyse how far Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca challenge the expectations of the male characters ...

    He says this in act two scene one. "Her eye must be fed; and what delight shall she have to look on the devil?" He also uses beastly imagery such as when he was describing the relationship between Othello and Desdemona to Brabantio in act one scene one as "An old black ram is tupping your white ewe."

  2. "The great failure of Othello is that Desdemona and Emilia are too weak and ...

    instincts she chooses to believe in her husband, and forget about it. It is also Emilia who later suspects that Othello believes that Desdemona is a whore because somebody has been spreading lies about her: "The Moor's abused by some most villainous knave" but again is told to keep quiet by Iago, and so she does.

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