Few of the plays of Shakespeare have from the first excited more intense interest among both theatre-goers and readers than the sad story of Othello and his life in Venice. The nature of the Moor's difficulties and the deep pathos of his catastrophe have brought the play closer to the lives and bosoms of men than any other of the great tragedies. The general excellence of the character of Othello, the noble Moor, and of Desdemona, the fair maid of Venice, together with the distressing nature of their marital conflict have made Othello the most heart-rending and the most moving of all the tragedies of Shakespeare.
By following what the bible told them about the opposite sexes, writers in this time were able to set specific gender norms for both men and women. However, when reading the works of William Shakespeare, one can sense a riff in the norms of either sex.
With characters such as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, we can see a character that possess qualities that do not necessarily belong to their gender.
However, with a character like Desdemona in Othello, we can see that Shakespeare could also write characters who fall victim to the gender roles of society. Also, with a character like Viola in Twelfth Night, we can see a character who becomes stuck in the middle of following the gender norms and making their own choices in life.
By looking at these three unique characters, we must wonder what Shakespeare was trying to say about the ways that men and women were perceived at the time.
Or, was he trying to change the way we thought about the opposite sex? When a person thinks of a devoted female character, Desdemona from Othello is the first that should pop into mind. In fact, the first time that Desdemona is introduced in Act 1, scene 3, she is presented as strong, independent, and capable of making her own decisions.
In her first lines of the play, she says; I do perceive here a divided duty. To you I am bound for life and education; My life and education both do learn me How to respect you: I,iii, To make such a statement like this one while being the only female character on stage is quite a feat, and would be considered an act of great bravery.
Also, by saying this directly to her father, Desdemona proves herself to be virtuous and intelligent. Not wanting to insult Brabantio, she persuades him to think on her as he thought on her mother; that she was not choosing to marry Othello in spite of him, but because she wants to share her proper upbringing that he was able to give to her with her husband so that she may start her own family and perform her womanly duties.
Unfortunately, this proclamation becomes her undoing. At the time, this unwomanly characteristic of bravery is attractive and compelling to Othello. This plot of Desdemona being unfaithful is just one of the ways that Shakespeare brings up the subject of male anxiety towards the erotic power of a female.
O curse of marriage, That we can call these delicate creatures ours, And not their appetites! Also, it is in this quote that we as the reader see the true nature of man in this time.
Othello listens to Iago accuse his wife of terrible deeds, but never attempts to ask her if they are true, that is, until it is too late. Unfortunately for Desdemona, her death is written as for a character who has actually done something wrong.
During this time, if a female character has wronged a man in anyway, she would usually die. Coincidentally, Shakespeare writes a death for Desdemona that goes hand in hand with the sin that she was accused of committing; foul play in bed.
Desdemona, in an attempt to save her life, tries to reason with her husband, but to no avail. However, when she is discovered on the edge of death by Emilia, she does not accuse her husband of her murder.
Instead, she says; A guiltless death I die. V,ii, Even though it is obvious that Othello was her true killer, Desdemona blames her death only on herself. Being the obedient wife that she was, Desdemona would never dare pin her death onto her husband.
Like any good woman in Renaissance literature, Desdemona was loyal to her husband in life, and with death, still remains loyal to his will. It is unfortunate to see a character who is as bright as Desdemona fall a victim to the classic standard of woman during this period of literature.
In Twelfth Night, we see a woman who is pretending to be a man. The concept of dressing in drag is not unusual in Shakespearian comedies. By doing so, the main female character is allowed to perform heroic acts that were usually reserved for men. In Act 1, scene 5, Viola, who is currently in disguise as a boy named Cesario, goes to the house of Countess Olivia in order to profess the love of his new lord, Duke Orsino.
I, v, Why was it so easy for Olivia to fall in love with Cesario, when it is impossible for her to feel that way about Orsino? It is because she believes that Cesario is a new kind of man; one that will listen to her opinions and actually care about them.
With this quote, Shakespeare is not only adding a comical mixup into the plot, but is also taking a jab at the men of the time period. Cesario represents the feminine side that lies within every man. By having Olivia fall for Cesario, Shakespeare is promoting men to be more compassionate towards women.The Negative Impact of Gender Roles in Othello Essay - While there have been a great number of changes in the world since Shakespeare wrote Othello, there are a .
The Gender Principles of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ Essay Sample There are gender principles in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ () that reflect the beliefs of the western world with regards to the male and female principles. Othello by William Shakespeare Essay. Othello by William Shakespeare The play "Othello" was written by the playwright William Shakespeare, one of the best and .
Apr 29, · Race and Gender in Shakespeare’s Othello. Date: April 29, Richard Knolle claims, in his essay The Generall Historie of the Turks (), that the Turk of the Ottoman Empire represents the “professed enemy of the Christian.” This is ironic as Othello uses this word insultingly too, taking thus a racist stance, while himself.
The Moral Enigma of Shakespeare's Othello. From Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear by Alexander W. Crawford. Boston R.G. Badger, Few of the plays of Shakespeare have from the first excited more intense interest among both theatre-goers and readers than the sad story of Othello and his life in Venice.
Othello William Shakespeare Othello essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Othello by William Shakespeare.