Considers the ways in which men and women are represented in Shakespeare's Othello.

Essay by einzuriCollege, UndergraduateA, August 2003

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Representation of Gender within Othello.

By Ainsley Brett

Question: Women are always victims because it is men who determine social organisation. Consider the ways in which the representation of men and women in Shakespeare's Othello supports or challenges this assumption.

Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece Othello contains many complex layers and issues that can be found by reading deeply into the play, and not simply reading it as a simple narrative. One such issue that is important in the play is how the women are portrayed as victims due to men determining social organisation. This conception is supported throughout the play through the representation of men and women. The play is divided into two distinct sections, Venice which is a site of order and the island of Cyprus a site of disorder and anarchy. Both settings allow for demeaning portrayal of women and their position within the patriarchal society of the day showing that social conditioning in the men's favour turn them into victims.

Venice at the time was a bustling trade centre of the world in many differing commodities including women. From what is shown of Venice, it seems that a woman was designated as a prize or a asset to her husband (owner). This is demonstrated by Iago commenting in regard to Othello ?tonigh he heath boarded a land carrack If it prove a lawful prize, he?s made for ever?, this demonstrates Iago?s conception that firstly Othello is a pirate turk, and also that he has captured treasure of Desdemona, making it seem like love is a second wheel to the actual possession of a wife and the the extra power it conveys on him. In the court of the Duke of Venice the male characters have a extensive colloquy that does to a great extent objectify the character...