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Role of Women in Othello

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In Othello, the play was written by Williams Shakespeare the protagonist, Othello brings jealousy upon himself because he suspects his wife, Desdemona of infidelity. However, Iago has a vicious way of manipulating everyone around him including Othello. This results in the death of Desdemona. Jealousy plays a big role in Othello in which Othello loves Desdemona, jealousy leads to hatred, and betrayal leads to death.

Despite the fact, the gender lens gives a clear understanding of behavior, power, and values throughout the relationships in Othello. The cultural lens allows us as the audience to focus on the aspect of how this lens clarifies the tragedy of Othello. His own problems guide him into the murder of Desdemona.

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It is Iago’s desire for constant viciousness, and manipulation that eventually exposes Othello’s insecurities. In the play, we see racial hatred intentionally towards Othello in the reference made about him “you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse”(1.1.110) comparing Othello to an animal as he creates the stereotype of being a savage because he is black. Animal imagery was frequently used throughout the play to portray Othello and black people in general. Barbarito, Desdemona’s father insistently accuses Othello of using black magic to seduce his daughter, he believed this was the only way for his righteous daughter to fall in love with Othello “she despite nature/to fall in love with what she feared to look on! against all rules of nature” (1.3.96-101) essentially saying that he cannot believe his daughter has fallen for a black man.

Iago influences others by twisting his words, and treacherously manage situations to feel powerful “Othello: Now art thou my lieutenant . Iago: I am your own forever.” (3.3.109) this scene confirms the power Iago has over Othello as he is appointed to be his lieutenant, as he achieves his main goal, letting us know Othello is completely in Iago’s control. Iago then warns Othello in a friendly manner “oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It’s the green-eyed monster’ (3.3.165) Iago is fully aware of the capability of jealousy. He then instills jealousy in other characters which allows him to change the thought of others to follow through with his evil plan.

Othello is portrayed as a man of honor, and confidence, as the play deals with interracial marriage in a white society, Othello holds an important position for he has been accepted for his bravery, as a soldier. Whereas the audience begins to see Othello’s honor, and confidence gradually disintegrate as Iago puts the slightest hint of doubt in his mind, jealousy took over. The loss of confidence puts a strain on Othello. He supposes his wife’s infidelity resulted in destroying his name, along with his reputation “My name that was fresh as Dian’s visage is begrimed and black” (3.3.54) about himself being filthy, and black. Indicating that a man’s honor was indeed very valuable during this time, as a woman should be obedient to their husbands. Desdemona’s actions depict a man’s honor, which not only devalues her as a woman but Othello as a man. This illustrates the foundation of Othello’s insecurities.

As supported by several quotes, we now understand the cultural perspective of Othello, in that racism, creates a sense of insecurity upon Othello that comes from society’s expectations, and definition of a man of honor. Othello’s insecurities involving his race ultimately sets him apart, and makes him self -conscious, ensuring he protects his reputation making him equal. As surrounded by prejudice, jealousy led him to his belief in Desdemona’s infidelity and resulted in tragic consequences.    

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