Female Characters in 'Othello'

  • Created by: xelario
  • Created on: 16-05-19 12:15
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  • Female Characters in Othello
    • Jacobean stereotypes of Venetian Women
      • female sexuality as a corruptive force, blaming women, sexism
        • 'licentious wantons' - T Coryat
        • sexualisation: Iago uses vulgar language about Emilia
          • 'her tongue she oft bestows on me'
          • paradox of women punished for their sexuality -Tennenhouse while also stereotyped that way
        • 'open their quivers to every arrow' - Coryat
      • 'Venice was famed for its... reputation' -Brockbank
        • Shakespeare's choice of setting highlights female identity
    • Sexism
      • "Characters divide into virgins and saints or whores and devils" - Marian Cox
        • male inability to view women as multi-dimensional beings
        • tendency to diminish women into one category so as not to afford them power
        • 'damn her, lewd minx!' - Othello on Desdemona
      • female characters display the highest moral values in the play
        • Honigmann calls D the 'strongest, the most heroic person in the play'
          • her unending loyalty-'Nobody. I myself' before dying
          • confident in her morality 'a guiltless death I die'-self-awareness which men do not recognise
          • counterargument: she is passive in the extreme and ultimately allows her husband to defeat her
        • Emilia defends her mistress 'she was heavenly true!' against Othello
      • "despite female characters often expressing themselves with startling sharpness...they are seen as duplicitous"
    • women as tragic characters
      • Desdemona's integrity and loyalty in the face of opposition is admirable
        • 'her nature is infinitely sweet and her love absolute' - Bradley
          • adds to complete tragedy of play, her suffering and the chaos which ensues
        • 'they are loves I bear to you' (Othello asks her to repent for her sins)


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