Othello was written at a period shaped by complex social and geopolitical issues. This article seeks to unravel the feminism and the feminist characters in Othello. The play is multifaceted and in that historic context it still speaks to audiences today in a dynamic and a legit way. William Shakespeare’s Othello gives a provision of understanding it from a feminist perspective. A critical feminist analysis of the play Othello has given us a solid and a definite judgement of the different central social values of women seen taking center stage during the Elizabethan society. During that period and time, the society was patriarchal and the women in the society were expected to be timid and fearful and to serve their male counterparts. Their voices were not heard and they had to device survival mechanisms. Women were thought to be physiological and psychologically inferior to men.

There are three women in Othello: Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca. From how the women behave in the play there are a clear indication of what the society was like at that time. In general, the paper will analyze how the women behaved and the feminism lens of that Elizabethan period. In my opinion from how the women in play behaved, it is a clear indication of what the society was like at that moment. In the play women are seen as possession, they are owned by their husbands and cannot make decisions of their own. It is also evident that the women were purchased through, marriage and now they live a; life that according to the men, they are to now pay back by their service in marriage and ensuring the man is satisfied.

Desdemona, is a victim of a society that places the value of women in their marital status. It is crystal clear that she is a virtuous woman however, the character traits displayed by Shakespeare in describing her echo a patriarchal society. Desdemona is portrayed as a “submissive”, “loyal” and “innocent”. Female submission, loyalty and innocence have always been a bone of contention for the feminist woman. These are all traits rooted in religious teachings but acted out in reality as a form of oppression to females. Submission instills some sense of inferiority to the woman while giving the male power to act with authority. Desdemona goes from being under the domination of her father to that of her husband, Othello. In the end, her loyalty and innocence costs her peace of mind, happiness and her life.

When her marriage to Othello is threatened, Desdemona is placed on the defensive side to prove her innocence with their husband’s opinions, although baseless, always triumphing. This is in line with the patriarchal view that a man’s opinions and decisions are final. This in conjunction with Desdemona’s view of her marriage as her source of prestige and status in her society place her in a position where she has no option but to defend her marriage because leaving it would be detrimental to her social status. (Massie,2017)

Her lowly status in society puts her in jeopardy when Lago aims to destroy her marriage. She is not in any position of power to deflect nor defend herself from Lago’s claims, Desdemona seems to have some form of social support structure as she tells a friend of the woes of her marriage. Nevertheless, this is not enough to fight off Othello’s decision due to his broken trust and fear of his reputation.

To conclude what has already been stated, feminism in Othello is alive and demonstrates that women have been struggling in a male dominated society. They have had to break barriers and to swim through very stormy seas to ensure they are valued and seen for who they really are not just vessels of pleasure.

Works Cited.

Massie, Elizabeth. “A Feminist Critique of Othello.” Pentangle’s History (2017): 29.

Pender, Carson. ““The Fruits Are to Ensue”: Male Dominance and Female Desirability in William Shakespeare’s Othello.” (2018).

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