Misogyny can be defined as the cultural attitude of hatred for women simply due to the fact that they are female and are seen as inferior to men in the Elizabethan society. Because of misogyny, women live in a society dominated by men. Going through Othello, there can be found that the female characters are presented according to the expectation of the Elizabethan society. During this time women didn’t enjoy the same amounts of freedom as they do today.
There were strict rules how women should behave at home and in public. Men ran all of the institutions and were considered as the head of households. Othello is a play in which these unequal positions are clearly portrayed. The way women behave and conduct themselves in Othello is linked to the Elizabethan society and the patriarchal society that he creates by the lack of representation that is given to women in the story, the portrayal of female suffering and sexual possession.Firstly, the portrayal of female suffering in Othello displays the low and marginalised spot they posses on the social ranking.
Forms of female suffering within the story are all caused by men. The social condition in the story appears that men can do whatever they want without a suitable punishment. Meanwhile women can’t perform an action that can be considered as offensive in the eyes of their husband or another male without any consequences., which can sometimes be deadly. This is shown in the killing of Desdemona, who was accused of being unfaithful, without any proof and the killing of Emila who was not supportive of the dishonesty of her husband. The consequences of offensive acts are completely different for male characters, such as Iago, who has been dishonest and evil throughout the entire story. Adding to that, Cassio hasn’t faced any punishments either, while being a “womanizer” in the story.
Even when facing death the female characters still act like they are subordinate to their husbands, as can be seen in the scenes of the deaths of both Desdemona and Emilia. Emilia sings a song about forsaken lovers and Desdemona doesn’t want to admit she has been wounded by Othello and states that she wounded herself. In conclusion, Shakespeare wanted to portray the low spot of females on the social ranking, by including female suffering into the story. Secondly, sexual possession is a central issue within the play asserting the sexual dominance of men. Men are placed as the active and primary initiator of sexual exertions. Even women who have husbands and fathers in powerful positions are still considered by Iago to be prostitutes and objects. This can be seen in the second setting of Othello, which is the island of Cyprus.
If a women does an attempt to have any sexual contact she is often labeled in offensive terms. Iago, the character with the most misogynistic attitude states in the first scene to Desdemona and Emilia “You rise to play and go to bed to work.” This shows the oppressive attitude towards women. Marriage is described as an act of ‘purchase’: a woman is bought by her husband, effectively as a favour, and is expected to fulfil his sexual desires in return for the privilege.
The feelings of female characters, such as Desdemona and Emilia are completely disregarded in the story. So the tragedy implies that women are just objects to further fulfill male desires. Iago is an extreme example, he shows, through his thinking, that women are sensed as possessions, secondary to the desires of men. Lastly, the lack of representation that is given to women in Othello is an illustration of the marginalisation of women. The play contains only three female characters: Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca.
While the male cast list is relatively extensive. Within this extensive male cast there are characters with little or even no impact on the story, these are characters such as sailors and soldiers. They don’t contribute to the plot or theme in any way. While these male characters with little or no impact are introduced, wives of important male characters such as Brabantio are not.
This minority of female characters exhibits a clear vision of the social climate of the play. Relatively important female characters are considered secondary to undistinguished male characters, such as Graziano, Brabantio’s kinsman. Othello includes two different settings: Venice and Cyprus. The events in Venice proof that women were seen as an asset to their husbands.
Male characters treat Desdemona in the story as an object, even when she is present in the situation. This can be shown when Othello states: “For such proceedings I am charged withal – I won his daughter? (Act 1, Sc 3, 93-94). ” https://www.classicsnetwork.com/essays/representation-of-gender-within/1098 Othello, the noble figure in the story even approves the idea of women being men’s property. This implements the idea that women are victims because of the male dominated social conditioning. So, the lack of female characters shows the social climate during the times of Elizabethan society. In conclusion, Othello is linked to the abstract expectations of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan society and the patriarchal society that he creates by the lack of representation that is given to women in the book, the portrayal of female suffering and sexual promiscuity and possession.
The play contains only three female characters: Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca. Comparatively important female characters are considered secondary to undistinguished male characters. Forms of female suffering within the story is all caused by men. The social condition in the story appears that men can do whatever they want without a suitable punishment.
Meanwhile women can’t perform an action that can be considered offensive. Sexual promiscuity and possession is a central issue within the play asserting the sexual dominance of men. Even women who have husbands and fathers in powerful positions are still considered by Iago to be prostitutes and objects. To conclude, misogyny can be found in Othello, a play in which unequal positions are clearly portrayed, simply because females are females.