Shakespeare's Othello is commonly regarded as a work depicting man's ability to use his reason towards evil intentions. A lower ranking officer in a general's army is able to destroy him through manipulation and deceit. Although Iago's deceit of Othello is undoubtedly a central theme in the play, another theme regarding the nature of man towards woman is apparent. Shakespeare's Othello suggests that men mistreat women because women, as a sex, allow themselves to be mistreated.
The mistreatment of women by their men occurs throughout the play. The main characters view their wives or significant others as beneath them and, usually, merely as things of lust and physical desire. This hateful view against women is reflected in some form or other by all of the main characters. Iago has the most hatred towards women of all the men in Othello. He considers love to be, "merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will."
(1.3.) He, also, believes all women are whores who, "rise to play, and go to bed to work." (2.1.) Iago's hatred is shown in the way he treats his wife. He seems to have only unkind words for his wife, and even kills her when she exposes his double-dealing plot at the end of the play. The other two male characters also mistreat their women. Cassio seems to have no true feelings for Bianca. He is a ladies man and, therefore, cannot be concerned with such things as true love. Even Othello, the only character who truly loves his wife, mistreats Desdemona. He ends up suffocating her because he believes she has been unfaithful to him. The fact that Othello, a noble and loving husband, mistreats his wife shows the general mistreatment and hatred that the men feel throughout the play.
Even though the men regard the women as inferiors, the women never confront or resist the way there treated. On the contrary, they remain subserviently loyal to their spouses. One such example from the play is Emilia's stealing of Desdemona's handkerchief. Although Iago mistreats Emilia and dislikes her, Emilia remains more loyal to him than to gentle and caring Desdemona. She gives the handkerchief to Iago even after Iago calls her, "a foolish wife," and "a good wench." Another female character, Bianca, also allows herself to be mistreated. Bianca believes that she is in love with Cassio and will, therefore, do anything for him. But Cassio does not return Bianca's feelings. Cassio. Cassio comes to have Desdemona's handkerchief in his possession and returns to his lodging only to find that Bianca has arrived. When he sees her he tells her to make a copy of the pattern found on the handkerchief, "Take me this work out." After questioning Cassio of where the handkerchief comes Cassio says, "That this is from some mistress, some remembrance." In stating this he appears to be a neglectful boyfriend to Bianca because telling her this means that he is seeing another woman behind her back. Yet, this is not true but, nonetheless, serves as an example of Cassio's disrespect towards Bianca. By saying that the handkerchief is from "some mistress" he confirms Bianca's previous statement of, "This is some token from a newer friend." This "friend" she speaks about is actually another word for mistress, and by Cassio saying that the handkerchief was from a mistress he reinforces the fact that he has no true feelings towards Bianca.