Women are always victims because it is men who determine social organisation." Consider the ways the representation of men and women in "Othello" supports or challenges this assumption.

Essay by KavvyHigh School, 12th gradeA-, June 2006

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Women are usually but not always the only victims of the social organisation created by men. In Shakespeare's famous tragic drama, "Othello", numerous characters, both male and female, are represented negatively and through their suffering the audience feels sympathy towards them. Desdemona's rebellion against her family in eloping with Othello, a black army general, results in her untimely death. Emilia, on the other hand, is compliant, to the patriarchal society, to a point whereby she becomes an unwitting tool for her husband. Othello and Cassio are both represented as being outsiders. As a result of the xenophobia associated with the white hegemonic Venetian society, these men are made to feel vulnerable making them easy targets for Iago's manipulation. Therefore, even in this patriarchal society, the men, like the female characters, suffer as a result of their societies' values and morals.

The objectification of Desdemona by other characters, demonstrates the marginalised status of women in Venetian society.

Initially Desdemona would have been seen as a radical character by the patriarchal audience. She goes against her father and family, by eloping with Othello and then when he goes to Cyprus, she argues, successfully, to go to Cyprus with him, rather than being the traditional wife who stayed at home and waited for her husbands return. Ironically, the only male to treat Desdemona as an equal, is Othello, a male ostracised by the Venetian society, "Oh, my fair warrior!" The rest of the males objectify Desdemona for her beauty, labelling her as being the epitome of the 'perfect' woman according to Venetian views; "She is a most exquisite lady" and "she is indeed perfection." Therefore, Desdemona is only recognised by her husband as being an equal, who is also marginalised. As Othello is viewed as an outsider in Venetian society, Desdemona is also...