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Women's Role in Othello by Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice, takes place During the time of the Renaissance at the beginning of the play they are in Venice, and then they move to Cyprus to help with the war against the Turks. Shakespeare does an amazing job depicting the life they used to live During the time of the Renaissance.

The most dominant symbol of the play is Desdemona’s present from Othello, the handkerchief. This was the first present she had received from her newfound love Othello, it symbolizes Othello’s love for Desdemona. “In the process of courtship, small, symbolic gifts were exchanged between aspiring couples who often marked their first, tentative steps towards betrothal through the offering and acceptance of several objects: ribbons, gloves, handkerchiefs, rings, coins, and locks or hair..”(Fliegel) Traditionally small items including handkerchiefs were given as presents, they meant more than what it’s value was. Desdemona kept hers with her everywhere she went until she lost it and Othello wasn’t very happy when he found out. “ That’s a fault. That handkerchief/ did an Egyptian to my mother give/ … she, dying gave it to me/ and bid me, when my fate would have me, wives… To lose ‘t or give ‘t away were such perdition/ As nothing else could match” (Oth. 3.4 65-70) This handkerchief meant very much to Othello and it upset him greatly to hear Desdemona say she had lost it.

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Since the beginning women have always been expected to obey their husbands, follow their orders and please them. “In fact, when marriage was established by God — it was ordained that wives should obey their husbands.” (The women’s signal) Women have always been thought told to. listen to a man, first they have to listen to their fathers then they have to listen to their husbands. “What, are you mad? I charge you, get you home.” (Otherwise. 5.2 206-207) Iago is realizing his plan is falling apart and Emilia is going to tell people the truth so he knows she has to obey him so he orders her to go home. “ Good gentlemen, let me have leave to speak. ‘Tis proper I obey him, but not now. Perchance, Iago, I will ne’er go home.” At this moment Emilia is breaking the normalities they have set. She disobeys her husband and asked the other men in the room if she can stay and speak. She wants to have the chance to tell them what is really going on. Women had little to no freedom during these times they always were under the demands of a man.


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