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"The Women Characters in Othello are the compliant victims of a male-dominated world." Discuss this statement:

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Introduction

"The Women Characters in Othello are the compliant victims of a male-dominated world." Discuss this statement: Othello contains two female characters which could be seen as main characters. Desdemona, the love of Othello, and daughter of Brabantio. And to an extent, Emilia, the wife of the villain Iago. Both roles show no authority within their own relationships with any male figure, or within society as a whole. This lack of initiative shown by both women could have been due to the fact that when Shakespeare produced the play, women were seen as having strong boundaries and limits, they knew this also, and would not dare to cross gender boundaries. This was also the case in the time which Othello is set. Society decided that women were not as important as men, and this was simply the case. ...read more.

Middle

He is not at all concerned about murdering her as long as she is guilty; his only guilt would be in murdering her if she is innocent. Emilia is introduced in Act II being ridiculed by her husband Iago. Iago makes a mockery of her in saying " . . . you are pictures out of door, / Bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens, / Saints in your injuries, devils being offended, /Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds" (II.i.108-111). Emilia's bitterness is due to this poor treatment that she receives from her husband Iago. This frequent abuse that she endures makes her bold and direct. She tells Desdemona, '"'Tis not a year or two shows us a man: / They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;/ To eat us hungrily, and when they are full,/ They belch us." ...read more.

Conclusion

Although any sexism in the first act is subtle and vague, the battle between the sexes begins slowly in Act II and gradually builds into the play's ugly climax. Iago gives audiences their first clue into the Venetian men's narrow view of females when he arrives in Cyprus. He sings a song to describe the perfect woman which begins "If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit / The one's for use, the other useth it" (II, i, 144-145). His narrow view may stem from previous experiences that having his way over women was always easy. Emilia obeys all of Iago's commands, even stealing Desdemona's handkerchief without even questioning the reason for this crime. Women were seen as lower class in the play, and in the period in general. They addressed the male figures normally as "my lord" or a certain term of given stature and respect. ...read more.

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