Introduction – Representation of Woman in Othello
William Shakespeare presents the three main female characters in the play Othello in many different ways. The social context is a key element and I will see how it is reflected in the other characters descriptions of the three females, reflected in their actions and finally in the language used by them. Shakespeare portrayal of the subversive nature of the three female characters in the play Othello is also another important factor.
The three female characters I am referring to are, Desdemona – the young, innocent and protected daughter of Brabantio who is kept away from life’s realities but ends up marrying a black man, Othello, which was so serious at the time it was on par with such things as cannibalism. Then there is Emilia – Desdemona’s loyal best friend who becomes a victim of her husband, Iago’s lies. Then finally Bianca – the “sinner” who like the other two females are given sympathetic treatment by Shakespeare. Bianca may also be portrayed in some of the seven deadly sins that the medieval church believed in, such as lechery and avarice, however the latter may just be because she is unsupported by a male figure unlike Desdemona and Emilia.
The play Othello was set in the late sixteenth century, during the wars between Venice and Turkey however the setting was mainly on the island of Cyprus except act 1 which took place in Venice.
Venetian society regarded women as either saints or sinners. They would be regarded as ‘saints’ if they lived their life on their father’s wealth, to whom they owed obedience and domestic labour until married off in which they would then need to love, obey and honour the husband. If they however disobeyed these duties, it was taken very seriously and could lead to the female being disowned and deprived of everything, including a home and a place in society and would therefore be seen as a ‘sinner’. So the Venetian times could have been seen as woman being treated as...