The Women Of Othello Essay, Research Paper
The women of Shakespeares Othello are put into stereotypical roles, but behind peoples backs play much stronger types. Desdemona, goes against her fathers orders and marries a moor. Bianca innocently takes part in Desdemona’s death. Emilia has an opportunity to save Desdemona but sneakingly remains silent. These women are similar because they are treated like they are lower then the men in their days. But they do not let that hold them back. These women take part in anything that pleases them. In no way would they let men tell them what to do!
Desdemona was the daughter of the Venetian Senator Brabantio. Against her father’s wishes, she marries a moor, Othello. “The marriage seems to be monstrous- in the sense that it represents a deviation from that which is natural. How else, Brabantio asks, would Desdemona, so carefully, have brought such scandal upon herself and her father by shunning, the wealthy curled darlings of our nation”(Act 1 Scene 2 Line 68). Desdemona arrives and gently resolves the dispute by acknowledging split loyalties to her father and to her new husband, but making it clear that she now belongs to Othello. For the play being set in the late sixteenth century, Desdemona’s defense of her actions is remarkably forthright, spirited, and courageous. She was aware of the great risk involved when she married a moor. She says “She remains bound to her noble father for her life and education; he remains her lord of duty, and she will always honor him as such. Now however, she has a husband, and she must recognize her duties to him just as her mother did to Brabantio”(Act 1 Scene 3 Line 181). Desdemona is a well-born and well educated daughter of a Venetian senator. She has been trained to adapt herself easily to any social situation. You could see how she is headstrong in her choice of a husband and in her defense of him. Desdemona’s generous nature tries to help Cassio receive his spot as Liutenant back. This is when her kindness falls for weakness. Using Desdemona and her natural goodness, Iago will “turn her virtue into pitch, and make the net that shall enmesh them all”(Act2 Scene 3 Line 366). It is Desdemona’s innocent attempt to reconcile Othello with Cassio that gives Iago the opportunity to wreak vengeance upon Othello, causing the murder and suicide, which bring this tragedy to its violent conclusion.
Emilia is Iago’s young and attractive outspoken wife. She is a agent in the plot of Desdemona’s death. Many times has Emilia been asked to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief by her husband. She knows how deeply Desdemona treasures it, but recalls that Iago has asked her many times for it. When the opportunity comes, Emilia steals it for her husband. When Desdemona questions Emilia about the handkerchief Emilia answers with a lie “I know not, madam”(Act 3 Scene 4 Line 24). Even after Desdemona explains the importance of the handkerchief. Emilia still sticks to her lie. Emilia knows that she has found the handkerchief and has given it to Iago. Even during Othello’s questioning she remains silent. Act 3 Scene 4 shows Emilia’s cynicism towards men as she asks Desdemona about her husband’s display of temper. Emilia believes that no women can be certain of her husband; to her, all men are egocentric-”they are all but stomachs and we all but food; they eat us hungry, and when they are full they belch us”(Act 3 Scene 4 Line 104). In Act 4 Scene 4 Emilia is given a chance to redeem herself when she has the opportunity to speak of Desdemona’s faithfulness towards Othello. Emilia is firm in her answers; she has never seen anything improper nor heard anything that would make her suspect the Desdemona has been less then faithful. In Act 4 Scene 2 you also learn of Emilia’s intelligence. She is able to spot that some man is setting Desdemona up in a web of lies. This person ironically being her husband Iago. In the last scene you see Emilia’s strength as a women. Emilia ignores her husband’s command to be quiet and go home. Loudly so everyone can hear her, she curses Iago and states that “perhaps she will never go home”(Act 5 Scene 2 Line 197).
Bianca is brought into this play as Cassio’s jealous mistress; he gives her Desdemona’s handkerchief, not realizing whose handkerchief it really was. Cassio asks Bianca to copy the embroidery pattern of Desdemona’s handkerchief. Bianca does so leading to Desdemona’s death. All Bianca’s doings were innocent. She had no clue of her part in this scheme. Bianca plays the jealous mistress whom suspects that the handkerchief is “some token from a newer friend”(Act 3 Scene 4 Line 181), who has replaced her in Cassio’s affection. This is proof of Cassio’s love of someone else to Bianca.
The dissimilarities of these three women are that Desdemona is being accused of an act which she could never take part in. Although, Bianca and Emilia both are admitted cheaters. The idea is unthinkable for Desdemona, She swears that she could never make love with another man. Emilia answers Desdemona by saying she would never betray Iago in this heavenly light-that is, she herself prefers to make love in the dark. Emilia had illusions about men or love or marriage vows. Emilia explains that there are many unfaithful wives and she blames it on the husband. She insists that wives should have the right to do whatever men do. That is where these three women all come into common. They live in a society where women can not do the thing men do. But, these three women live by their own wills. By being a mistress, by cheating and by marrying a moor. These three women felt that a wife should not be judged nor treated with less respect than a man. Emilia especially speaks strongly on this issue because of her years living as Iago’s wife. Too long has she seen hypocrisy and his faults which she as a women could be censored for committing.
As Iago reminded Othello in Act 3 Scene 3 the faithless wife is a well-known member of Venetian society. “In Venice wives do not let even God see the pranks. They dare not show their husbands”(Act 3 Scene 3 Line 202). This proves that even if it is going to be through lying. These three women will get their business equally done as men do.