Gender Criticism In Othello

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Gender Criticism: The Role of Women in “Othello” William Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a play that can be analyzed through the theory of gender criticism. The play portrays women as possessions and property, rather than human beings. Shakespeare shows this gender role through each of the women characters: Bianca, Emilia and Desdemona. I would be most interested in reading “Othello” through the theory of gender criticism because it shows the obstacles women had to face during the Elizabethan era and how far women have come since then. Bianca is an important example of the role of women in “Othello”. She is a courtesan who is constantly mocked and considered unrespectable in society. For example, Cassio speaks of her foolish love for him, however, …show more content…
She, like Bianca, is also manipulated by the men around her to do want they want. For example, Iago convinces her to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief, which ultimately leads to her demise. Emilia feels that she must obey her husband’s orders to please him. Iago repeatedly disrespects her and makes her feel that she must work to continue the marriage. For example, when Emilia steals the handkerchief from Desdemona, Iago responds with, “A good wench! Give it me.” (72). This shows that she is treated like property and taken advantage of by Iago because he is only happy with her when she does something to benefit him. Emilia appears to be nothing more than a source of convenience to Iago. He shows this by constantly giving negative remarks and inappropriate responses to Emilia. For example, he degrades her with phrases such as, “You have a thing for me? It is a common thing.” (72) and “To have a foolish wife.” (72). Iago is showing disrespect toward his wife in these phrases by calling her names and using inappropriate humor to respond to her. This proves that Emilia is treated like a possession rather than a human, and is manipulated to feel that if she obeys Iago’s commands, then he will show her more …show more content…
The demise of many of the characters is strictly due to the love and jealousy of Desdemona. Although she seems like a strong, independent female who ran away with Othello, Desdemona is treated like property. In one instance, Iago and Roderigo tell Brabantio that his daughter has run away with Othello. His response is, “O thou foul thief! Where hast thou stow’d my daughter?” (12). Brabantio is implying here that Desdemona cannot make her own decisions and until he approves of the husband, she belongs to him. Also, Othello treats her as if she is his possession as well. Wherever he travels, he transports her like she is part of his luggage. He states, “To his conveyance I assign my wife, with what else needful your good grace shall think to be sent after me.” (24). This proves that even though Othello’s love for Desdemona exists, he talks about her like she is not human and that it is her honor to do what he

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