Women in "Othello" Essay

1405 WordsJun 10, 20126 Pages
“The women in Othello are articulate, but frustratingly unable to save themselves from the cruelty of men” In the seventeenth century, men in society dominated women. Women were “kept” by their fathers and then by their husbands, who expected them to be obedient childbearing objects. It is therefore unsurprising that in Othello, Shakespeare presents three women who are all, in one way or another, subjected to the cruelty of men. Desdemona, wife to Othello, is typically interpreted as a guiltless, virtuous and obedient woman who is smacked in public, and murdered for no real reason by her jealous husband: “A guiltless death I die” As Desdemona speaks her final lines, she says that she has died an innocent woman, and does not blame her husband for killing her, declaring it “a wretched fortune”. It is no surprise that Lisa Jardine referred to Desdemona as the stock Jacobean character, Griselda: “Glorious in her resignation in the face of husbandly chastisement”. Desdemona even says to the audience, “Let nobody blame [Othello], his scorn I approve”. It is possible that the women in Othello are articulate but unable to save themselves, because of their obedient nature to their husbands or lovers, in Bianca’s case. Despite this, Loomba wrote that Desdemona is “too knowing and too understanding”. Shakespeare might be saying that articulate women and female independence are futile and it is for that reason she must die. It is also interesting to note that Desdemona dies by suffocation, which reflects the silencing of an articulate female voice. In the scene following the journey to Cyprus, Desdemona and Othello’s ensign, Iago, have a debate about the role of women. In the controversial dispute, Desdemona manages to put Iago in his place and with wit and intelligence, outsmart the calculating and duplicitous villain of this play: “O, most lame and impotent

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