15 July, 2014
Throughout human history, the state of affairs regarding the female gender has drastically changed. In William Shakespeare's Othello, we are presented with multiple characters that challenge societal gender roles and expectations during the Elizabethan patriarchal society. The gender roles of woman have only started to improve relatively recently, so when the woman in Othello (a play written in the 17th century) are able to defy and question the societal norms regarding gender, it becomes all the more effective. Over the course of Othello, the characters of Desdemona, Bianca and Emilia are viewed as essential components of the plot and mediums through which powerful messages regarding gender equality are relayed through.
The first female character that comes to mind in Othello is Desdemona, and rightfully so considering she is the subject of Othello's jealousy and downfall. On paper, Desdemona appears to be rather subdued, a product of venetian society whose only purpose in the play is as a plot device to lead to the tragic end of Othello. On a closer look, however, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary. One such proof is before the play begins, when Desdemona marries Othello without her father's consent. Brabantio, of course is angry and goes to the Duke about this heinous act. Desdemona testifies for herself without the help of a man and says "So much I challenge that I profess due to the Moor my Lord."(I.iii.187-188) This line reveals that Desdemona freely chose to marry Othello. To marry a man without a fathers consent, especially an outsider would be blasphemous in Elizabethan times, yet Desdemona perused her love and a result broke the expectations of a typical daughter of Elizabethan times as woman were considered...