Feminist Critque of Othello

2539 Words11 Pages
Level 3 English 3.8 AS 91479 Develop an informed understanding of literature and/or language using critical texts

Othello, or also known as the Tragedy of Othello, the moor of Venice, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare written between 1602 and 1603, with its premier on the first of November, 1604. The majority of Shakespeare’s career was bracketed by the Elizabethan era, “which was an epoch in English history marked by Elizabeth I (1558-1603).” Elizabeth I was the queen regnant of England, different to a queen consort as a queen regnant “is a female monarch who reigns in her own right” whereas a queen consort “is the wife of a reigning king”, or a queen regent, “who is the guardian of a child monarch reigning temporarily in their stead”. The queen regnant status of Elizabeth I is extremely significant as the idea of women are not meant to be granted power as they are considered the weaker sex was a popular notion during the medieval and renaissance in England. A queen regnant in reign therefore addresses the issues dealing with gender inequality of the sexist Elizabethan society. Through a feminist critique of Othello, it is possible to examine the influences of sexism in the society by inspecting the construction of the patriarchy, the idea that gender is not the same as sex, and lastly, the construction of femininity within the play. Feminism, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary to be “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”, and as A. Balu Vijayaraghavan said, by applying feminist criticism, one could “investigate how Shakespeare’s plays relate to the codes and conventions of the gender system specific to the early modern period”, as well as having an understanding of “how thoroughly Shakespeare shared the gender assumptions of his own time and the ways in which his plays must have disrupted these assumptions”.
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