“Shakespeare: A 17th century progressive” (Analysis of Othello)
Othello, by William Shakespeare is embeded in 17th century Venetian society, throughout this time in history women were viewed as little more than home, owned first by their moms and dads and after that their by their other halves. We are introduced to the character of Desdemona as the wife of Othello, the Moor General of the Venetian army. In spite of the racial prejudice of the time, Othello has actually risen to prominence in Venetian society as a competent soldier and military leader.
Desdemona’s choice of Othello as a partner is drastically various than that which was expected of her a s a member of upper class. Interracial couples face discrimination even today, throughout the authors life time however, such things were far more taboo. We learn of the relationship initially when Rodrigo and Iago stand outside the house of Brabantio and yell in the streets” Zounds, sir, y’ are robbed! …” (I. i. 86). Iago is informing Brabantio of his child’s marriage to Othello.
Brabantio is unaware of the relationship, and using the word “robbed’ reflects the morals of the day. Desdemona, his child was his home and his to hand out. Brabantio validates this upon learning that one of the males waking him is Rodrigo, thinking Rodrigo exists to call upon Desdemona he states “My daughter is not for thee …” (I. i. 99), Brabantio too felt that his child was his to give away or keep as he pleased.
Desdemona’s correct role as a Venetian female would have been to wed whomever her dad picked, she acknowledges this and lays out a brief run-through of what was expected of females during that time in Scene I, act III, beginning with line 180 she explains and acknowledges her duty to her dad, however confesses to her marital relationship with Othello and claims to now be duty bound to him as her spouse. This speech is the first indication that Shakespeare did not agree with the worths of his time.
The very first woman in the play to speak, speaks not simply in a passing discussion with others, but rather provides a small speech. Shakespeare utilizes the character to acknowledge what his audience would have thought, and then to expose them to a various point of view completely. Desdemona, in weding a black guy, has stepped far outside the borders of her societal role. She chose not to follow her anticipated path nevertheless, and married of her own volition, an act of independence not expected of women during that time.
Her actions were in plain contrast to the patriarchal society she resided in and would have been viewed audiences as shocking and unconscionable. It could be argued that Shakespeare composed the character as such simply to surprise his audience, to present his audiences something outlandish simply for entertainment functions. It remains in the character of Emilia that we discover the counter to this argument. Desdemona is a female of wealth and status, her nature, contrary to the prevailing knowledge of the time, taken alone, proves absolutely nothing.
Emilia is the just other major female character in the play. Initially look the 2 ladies appear to be stark opposites. Emilia is Desdemona’s servant, she is a peasant. Like Desdemona though, she is a victim of her times. She too is expected by society to follow stringent mores and standards. Neither woman is anticipated to be complimentary thinking, totally free willed individuals. Both are anticipated to remain loyal to their other halves, and be pleased by a life of service to them. Emilia also does not fit the stereotypical mold of women during that time period.
Her speech to Desdemona in Act 4, Scene 3, reveals this. “Their other halves have sense like them, They see and smell. And have their palates for both sweet and sour.” (IV, iii, 90-91). The senses Emilia is referring to are the sensuous ones, the physical and lustful desires that all people have. During Shakespeare’s time, women were not anticipated to have such sensations and desires. Speaking with Desdemona earlier in the exact same scene, Emelia reveals a determination to cheat on her spouse if the benefits would be terrific sufficient. … who would not make her partner a cuckold to make him an emperor? I must venture purgatory for’t” (IV, iii, 72-73. ). Emelia makes a danger– benefit analysis and decides that there are circumstances in which she would cheat on her husband, such a willingness is at odds with the standards of the time. Ladies throughout the time of Othello were expected to be servile to their dads and after that after marital relationship to their partners. Desdemona was not servile to her daddy, marrying without his consent and also devoting the even higher criminal offense of marrying a black male.
Emelia was not servile to her hubby, she was willing to cheat on him and in Act V, Scene II speaks up when both Othello and Iago want her to be quiet. It is with these two characters, Desdemona through her actions and Emelia through her words that Shakespeare provided his audience with a drastically different view of ladies than they would have been accustomed to, he presented them as humans. References: Shakespeare, William. Othello. New York City: Penguin Putnman Classics, 1998.