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"The great failure of Othello is that Desdemona and Emilia are too weak and easily deceived to be convincing" How far do you agree with this criticism of the play?

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"The great failure of Othello is that Desdemona and Emilia are too weak and easily deceived to be convincing" How far do you agree with this criticism of the play? The character's of Desdemona and Emilia are very different in the play Othello, but are treated in similar ways because of the fact that they are women. During the 17th century, which is when the play was written and set, women were clearly seen as the weaker sex, and so their views and judgements were not as respected as those given by a man. Iago continually deceives the both of the female characters throughout the play, and so some critics have come to the conclusion that their characters are unrealistic. But as many of the other characters in the play also suffered from this, it is difficult to agree that this poor judge of character could be strewed as unconvincing. Shakespeare was writing his play to a Jacobean audience, and so his characters, although do represent normal people, are taken to an extreme level. He introduces the audience to three different types of women: the honest, beautiful, witty and dearly devoted wife, the shrewd but helpful maid and the socially unacceptable prostitute. ...read more.


She represents a lot of women during that period, who although had the intellect, where constantly belittled by either the husbands (as is Emilia) or men in general, so remained silent. One of the problems with Shakespeare's decision to make Emilia not discover that it was all Iago's fault until it is too late, is that she is portrayed as a person who likes to know other people's business. An example of this is after Othello has left Desdemona in Act 4, one of the first things she asks Desdemona is "what's the matter with my Lord" and so it seems strange that something as confusing as Othello's accusations did not intrigue her into finding out more. There was a lot of racism in England during the17th century, and so Desdemona's decision to marry a black man was not only unusual in the play, but would have been the same views expressed by the Jacobean audience. Many people saw black people as Devils, and believed that they were destined to Hell. Desdemona obviously did not share this view, as she was a devoted Christian, and so would not have falling in love with something unholy. ...read more.


Therefore if she were really convinced that Iago had orchestrated the entire situation then people would at least listen to her views, even if they did not believe them. Emilia is the opposite of Desdemona; for her kind and honest nature mixed with her crude and sometimes insensitive remarks, makes her a very realistic character. She on the other hand if suggested that it was Iago who has poisoned Othello's thought may not be as easily believed. The fact that she is Iago's wife, may have allowed her a little more respect, but she is still a wife of an ensign whose occupation is that of a maid. Shakespeare uses the women cleverly in the play, as they are the least likely to be believed, but ironically are the ones who discover the truth. If Emilia had been encouraged to continue to expand on her thoughts then she would have probably unmasked the truth earlier. But because it was always Iago who was insisting on her to remain quiet, she was not given the opportunity to do so. It can therefore be said that it was not the fact that they were weak that made them unconvincing, but because they were never given the chance, as Iago, a clever manipulator, was always around to stop them before they revealed him as the liar that he is. ...read more.

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