Feminist reading of Othello

How is Desdemona’s relationship with her father explored with in the opening Act?
To what extent are the female characters stereotyped: Desdemona the idealised wife, Emilia the nagging wife and Bianca the doting mistress?

Why does the text focus on such powerless stereotypes?

How is female sexuality explored in the play?

What sexual identities are offered to the female characters

What sexual freedom is given to the make characters?

What social structures are presented to maintain patriarchal control?
What happens to women when they cross or a suspected of crossing societal expectations of submission and faithfulness?

To what extent must Desdemona and Emelia both die in order for patriarchal control to be restored?

One thought on “Feminist reading of Othello

  1. 1. Their relationship is very unstable as Brabantio thinks that Desdemona has betrayed her by not telling him about Othello and by not asking him for her to marry Othello. In the council chamber Brabantio asks for Desdemona to speak and she tells her father about what has happened and how she has “betrayed” him but she only did it because she knew that he would not accept that she loved him. It is explored by powerful words that are used. In Act 1 scene ii there is dialogue about how Brabantio says that he would rather adopt a child then let her be with the “moor” Othello.
    2.Desdemona as being the idealised wife is very much what the girl is about and what they would’ve expected back in that day. She does everything for her man, stays “faithful” and simply has love only for him.’
    Amelia being the nagging wife is a lady who is not always faithful and very sly towards both “parties” . she just wants to be loved by Iago and will do anything for him to notice her. She wants a relationship but it won’t happen without her putting in everything and giving everything to be noticed.
    Bianca is stereotyped as the adoring/doting mistress. She defiantly adores Cassio even though she is a prostitute and would do anything for him except for when she finds out that the gift wasn’t only for her.
    4. Emilia is portrayed as one with little morals as she indirectly admits to sleeping around. Desdimona on the other hand says that she would never think of being unfaithful which is seen as a bit obscure as it is doubted by many. This is saying that although not acceptable, was not a major concern within this society. Women were generally used as a sexual object and not as a one to love.
    5.Desdemona’s sexual identity is very pure. She does make love but she also has a very soft, loving, caring side. Emelia’s sexual identity is a rougher side. She’d do anything to receive at least attention form her husband and doesn’t care what. She just wants love from him and resorts to stealing just to be noticed. Bianca’s sexual identity is known for her prostitution but I feel she doesn’t really want to be one as she falls for Michael Cassio and has feelings for him except for when she finds out the love for him isn’t “pure”
    6. Othello has great freedom in this movie as he sleeps with Desidmona generally when he pleases. Cassio has Bianca whenever he wants as she is a prostitute and is not judged by that. Iago seems to also be the one that is in control of him and Emilias sex life, this can be related to society today where it is generally a lot more acceptable for men to sleep around then women.
    7. The males are put in the positions of power so the women are not able to take over. For example Brabantio is a senator, Othello is a leader, the members on the coucil are all male etc.
    8. Women who do not obey male society’s expectations for submission and faithfulness are subject to death. Two of the tree women in the text cross the lines and killed but the third lives. Desdemona is suspected of unfaithfulness and because she has failed to comply with Othello he kills her. When Amelia finds Othello with the body of Desdemona she refuses to obey Iago and calls for some authority. Because she defies Iago he kills her.
    9. Desdemona and Amelia must die so that the uprising against the rule of the men can be stopped. The women gain power when they disobey (or are thought to disobey) societies expectations and for order and control to be restored to men the women need to die.

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