Othello: Women and Voices Essay

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Othello: Women and Voices "Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man." - John Knox John Knox a protestant leader, neatly encapsulated the thoughts of men about women during Shakespeare’s times. During the 16th Century, men were all powerful and women were meek and demure. At least, that’s what most people believed. In the current world scenario where women are to some extent considered equals, it may seem absurd but the patriarchal notion of women being inferior to men was a popular one during Shakespeare’s time. In a text written by John Dod and Robert Cleaver called ‘A Godly Form of Household Government’ which was published in 1568, the writers say that “The wife, her duty is, in all reverence and humility, to submit and subject herself to her husband in all such duties as properly belong to marriage. Secondly, therein to be a help unto him, according to God's ordinance. Thirdly, to obey his commandments in all things which he may command by the authority of a husband. Fourthly and lastly, to give him mutual benevolence.” This reinforces the viewpoint stated by John Knox. Women were supposed to “serve and obey men” and not say a word. Shakespeare’s time can be characterised by the patriarchal and misogynistic way of thinking of people. The language used in the Renaissance drama depicts women as sexually seductive. The men controlled the speech of the play because women were devoid of a voice. They were meant to be silent spectators and just seen not heard by other people. In theatre, a woman experiences physical as well as verbal abuse from men and are left helpless. Power and femininity are two separate components leading to the integration of male dominance in a woman’s inferiority. The language or rather the silence of the women shows the inequality between the two sexes. The strong use of derogatory language towards women is also an

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