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

Male and Female Relationships in Othello

Extracts from this document...


Questions: How has Shakespeare in Othello explored the relationships between men and women and discuss the means by which they rule that exploration dramatically interesting. In the tragedy of Othello, Shakespeare explores a myriad of relationships between men and women from different classes, namely in parental, marital, sexual, and fraternal liaisons. He uses literary techniques i.e. puns, dramatic irony, and characterization in his exploration of the relationships, making it dramatically interesting in the sense that the audience is always on the tip of their toes due to the suspense and tension established. The focus of this essay will be on Shakespeare's exploration of marital relationship, through the use of language, diction, parallelism... to establish tension and suspense. Specifically, I will juxtapose the quite liberal relationship that Othello and Desdemona holds with Emilia and Iago's loveless marriage. The equal relationship of Othello and Desdemona contrasts starkly against the patriarchal and racist views held by Elizabethan audiences, the fact that Shakespeare portrays their marriage as true love must have been controversial at the time and the idea itself had been sufficient enough to make the play interesting. However Shakespeare's establishment of tension through the character's language and diction further makes it more dramatically inciting to the audience, this is portrayed dominantly in Act I Scene 3, where Othello is justifying his marriage in front of the Venetian council. ...read more.


compliment to her however 'wench' is a derogatory for working girl or servant, moreover Iago's brief and simplistic language shows his superior attitude towards Emilia. Hence Shakespeare's use of puns and language not only shows Iago and Emilia's loveless relationship but also builds tension and excitement through its foreshadowing of sex. However Iago's belittling of Emilia is not limited to the private domain; even in public he does not lose the opportunity to disparage her. In act II scene 1, Iago mercilessly criticizes Emilia as a lazy and cantankerous woman, Emilia's silence and subservient attitude demonstrate their relationship as patriarchal. Shakespeare's use of puns and parallelism to belittle Emilia creates tension between Desdemona and Iago, which seems to forebode a skirmish hence exciting the audience. When Cassio greats Emilia with kisses, Iago responds crudely with "would she give you so much of her lips/ As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,/ You would have enough." This pun hints sarcastically to kissing as well as scolding, already it is embarrassing enough to be publicly denounced as quarrelsome, however it is even more humiliating as Iago also implies Emilia seems to ready to receive Cassio's kisses. Desdemona attempts to rescue Emilia from such remarks, only to have Iago continue to defame his wife publicly. His invective, though, serves a greater purpose than simply providing a peek at his chauvinistic attitudes. ...read more.


This reflects a fundamental weakness that lies in all relationships between men and woman in Elizabethan times, in Iago and Emilia's relationship as well as Desdemona and Othello's. That is the Elizabethan ideal of woman as silent and obedient and their inferior status will ultimately hinder men and woman relationships, and will ultimately lead to tragedy. Shakespeare's use of language, diction, parallelism, repetition and punning all serve to create tension, in both between the characters and the emotions of the audience. The tension created generates suspense and anticipation of what may follow, thus making the play more 'dramatically interesting' to the audience. Furthermore Shakespeare has used these literary techniques to explore the marital relationship between Othello and Desdemona and Iago and Emilia. Othello and Desdemona's relationship is loving, and appears equal in the sense that sex and race does not seem to pose a problem, however as Shakespeare has repeatedly hinted to us their reasoning behind their love seems to simplistic. Whereas Iago and Emilia's relationship is completely patriarchal, Emilia is treated without respect or trust, whereas she desperately wants to please Iago. Though these two relationships seem to illustrate two opposing extremes on the scale, however both are fundamentally affected by the Elizabethan social standards for woman, thus Shakespeare has illustrated that Elizabethan men and women relationships can not escape the patriarchal norm of society, which will ultimately lead to tragedy and destruction. Word Count: 1745 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Languages 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 International Baccalaureate Languages essays

  1. Katherine Mansfield and Female Dependance

    Ironically the narrator states that she "blinked rapidly, screwing up her face," even though the readers become aware that her image is already a permanent mess (11). Through the repetition of the whereabouts of her husband who is apparently "shearing", symbolism is presented in the fact that he has stripped

  2. How is Iago presented in Act 1 of William Shakepeare's play Othello

    speaking in an eloquent way, using techniques such as metaphors even though they are often grotesque. Such metaphors are 'this monstrous birth", describing his revenge, and "making the beast with two backs", describing Othello and Desdemona having sex.

  1. Hamlet ACT I Scene I:1

    Scene II They tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Hamlet's transformation and ask them to basically go upon Hamlet's favors and state what the "unknown afflicts him thus." (33 Shakespeare) The thanks that the King and Queen are giving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are thanks "as fits a king's remembrance," (34)

  2. Christmas - origins, traditions and ideas for making gifts.

    * shredded coconut (optional) Materials: 17- x 14-inch baking sheet decorating bag with 1/4-inch round opening tip sharp knife rolling pin poster board (cut into pattern pieces shown below) two 14- x 10-inch doilies 11- x 11-inch medium-weight cardboard transparent tape rubber spatula Suggested candies: gumdrops peppermint rounds candy-coated chocolate pieces red cinnamon candies

  1. Vietnamese Poetry and Language

    Mie�ng the� c��i ta la� tha�ng �a�ng t�� Ch� l�n kho�ng �a�y mo�t cuo�c �o� �en Ba�n be� quanh ta mo�t tuo�ng ngao nga�n Th��c, ngu�, nh�, que�n, da�ng da�c �u phie�n! Tr��ng ha�n mang mang �o�t ba�ng kho�i thuo�c Nuo�t �a�ng cay theo ngu�m ca� phe� �en.

  2. The Relationship Between Iago and Women

    Perhaps Emilia is trying to reconcile with her husband by doing a good act for him like Shakespeare probably believed that all women should do. By her keeping quiet during Othello and Desdemona's exchange and by giving her husband the handkerchief, Emilia believes that she is fulfilling her duty to

  1. Mother Daughter Relationships

    Yet, their relationship which 'was based on the solid principle of mutual acceptance and the ability to laugh together at almost everything' [pg144] remains just the same. Clara manages to know every little detail about her daughter's life and senses her love for Pedro Tercero, just by the changing color of her aura.

  2. The play, Othello, by William Shakespeare has often been described as a domestic tragedy; ...

    This contrasts to Iago and Emilia's marriage which is based on image and the sexual aspect. The power of the play ultimately resides in the relationship between Othello and Desdemona. However, despite the seemingly strong foundation of faith that has supported the relationship, Othello's jealousy is stirred by Iago.

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