October 18, 2018
Shakespeare’s Othello: The True Nature of Women
Shakespeare’s Othello is said to be one of the most tragic plays written by Shakespeare besides Romeo and Juliet. In Othello, we understand that Othello is this noble and a virtuous leader who was eventually corrupted with jealousy by the villain Iago in order to destroy Othello and Desdemona’s marriage. Within the plot, there were two women that grabbed our attention because of their different views on what marriage and love should be. Desdemona and Emilia have different standards of their husbands. Even though it seemed as if both women play a less significant role in the play, their conflicts will later on in the play become important when discussing the true nature of women. We differentiate between Emilia and Desdemona looking at their status and the men they are married to. Desdemona is the wife of the noble and trustworthy Othello and Emilia is Desdemona’s loyal servant and the wife of Iago; the corrupted villain who also believes that all women are evil. We know that both women are loyal to their husbands, but their roles play into creating an argument of their opinions about men and why it was important Shakespeare decided to include that in the play.
In the beginning of the play, we first notice Desdemona standing up to her father of choosing to marry Othello.
Desdemona My noble father
I do perceive here a divided duty
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband;
And so much duty as my mother showed
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord. ( 1.3. 178-186)
This passage showed Desdemona’s blind loyalty and faithfulness for Othello when telling her father, he loves him but just like his mother, Desdemona will love her husband more than her father. Desdemona feels that loves and marriage is important and sacred between two people, and that was how she felt about Othello. Even when Othello was becoming this jealous person, accusing Desdemona of infidelity and striking her in public calling her a “strumpet”, Desdemona still had that much love for Othello as she did in her speech. In her speech, Desdemona is talking about her love for Othello, but it also shows that she is willing to die for the people she loves which ironically, she did die at the hands of Othello. In Act 5, scene 2 in Desdemona’s final moment she said “Nobody. I myself. Farewell.” (5.2. 127). The shows how Desdemona still protected her husband and remained true to him in her las moments, which we get a much clearer understanding on how she sees the true nature of men.
Desdemona believes that men want respect and desire and that is what Othello wanted from her . Desdemona see that just being a and honest and faithful wife to Othello was worth more than everything he was doing to hurt her or what people were saying about their marriage. In Desdemona’s eyes, being a devoted wife is the only way to show her love to Othello. In Act 4, Scene 3, Desdemona asked Emilia for advice and we will see the different perspective that Emilia has on love and marriage. In Edward Pechter’s article Too Much Violence: Murdering Wives in Othello, the author said, ” the violence perpetrated on the female body, in Othello, is understood as instrumentals serving person or cultural needs that are defined in terms of male interests” (Pechter, pg. 68) This explains how Desdemona chooses to be completely devoted towards Othello because it is how duty as a women to be the kind of woman that she believes her husband desires. Slowly we see that Desdemona’s strong spirit had been shattered by Othello’s rage, and that becomes weakened and vulnerable for not standing up for herself against Othello’s accusations. It is because of this that led to her death at the end of the play. Desdemona is portrayed as woman who believes that a woman’s role is determined by their husbands. Desdemona has never thought of having sexual relationships with anyone other than Othello, however, when Desdemona asks Emilia for advice, we hear a different view from Emilia.
Emilia has had a much different experience with love and marriage being with Iago, who by the way is the deceitful and egotistical villain in the play. We can understand why Emilia feels the way she feels especially married to a guy like Iago.
Emilia Yes, a dozen; and as many th’oth’ vantage as would store the world they played for. But I do think it is their husbands’ fault If wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties And pour our treasures into foreign laps; Or else would break out in peevish jealousies, Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us, Or scant our former having in despite. Why, we have galls; and though we have some grace, Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know Their wives have sense like them. They see, and smell, And have their palates both for sweet and sour, As husbands have. What is it that they do When they change us for others? Is it sport? I think it is. And doth affection breed it? I think it doth. Is’t frailty that thus errs? It is so too. And have not we affections, Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have? Then let them use us well; else let them know, The ills we do, their ills instruct us so. ( 4.3. 85- 104)
Emilia’s speech here was well said