Bianca Othello MD

In what way is Bianca a foil to Desdemona? The opposite of D’s relationship with O. Her love is not reciprocal. Contrast in background.
Does Shakespeare portray Bianca in a sympathetic light? Jacobean audience would ‘look down’ upon a prostitute; however, presented as virtuous. Attitude to career depends on audience.
Why did Shakespeare make one of the few female characters in the play a courtesan (prostitute)? To provide a foil to D and E; V women are perceived as promiscuous; her role a prostitute foregrounds the idea that V women tend to be promiscuous.
In what way is Bianca a counterpoint to Roderigo? Both in love with characters who do not reciprocate.
What does Bianca’s character suggest about the portrayal of gender in the play as a whole? In terms of virtue, she is ‘ideal’. Confused attitude to gender? Contrasts with other female characters…challenges our presumptions of women in the play. Character reflects poorly on the males in the play.
Bianca. O Cassio, whence came this? This is some token from a newer friend: To the felt absence now I feel a cause: Is’t come to this? Well, well. After Cassio gives her D’s handkerchief and asks her to ‘take the work out.’ Act 3 scene 4.
Cassio. Go to, woman! Throw your vile guesses in the devil’s teeth, From whence you have them. You are jealous now That this is from some mistress, some remembrance: No, in good troth, Bianca.
Bianca. Leave you! wherefore? Cassio. I do attend here on the general; And think it no addition, nor my wish, To have him see me woman’d. Bianca. Why, I pray you? Cassio. Not that I love you not. Bianca. But that you do not love me. I pray you, bring me on the way a little, And say if I shall see you soon at night. ‘Woman’d’: noun used as verb (anthimeria) — shamed at association with B due to connotations; she is conforming to stereotypes — repeated use of interrogative voice. ‘Not that I love you not’: epanalepsis, fragmented sentences, interruptions. B uses I.P. — elevates B rhetorically. ‘At night’, links to symbol of light and dark — immorality. ‘But that you do not love me’: sardonic tone, repetition of C’s phrasing: not naive, unlike D. Is Cassio manipulating B?
Iago: [OTHELLO retires] Now will I question Cassio of Bianca, A housewife that by selling her desires Buys herself bread and clothes: it is a creature That dotes on Cassio; as ’tis the strumpet’s plague To beguile many and be beguiled by one: He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain From the excess of laughter. Iago’s plan is to have Cassio laugh about Bianca, but to trick Othello into think he’s laughing about Desdemona.
Iago. She gives it out that you shall marry hey: Do you intend it? Cassio. Ha, ha, ha! Othello. Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph? Cassio. I marry her! what? a customer! Prithee, bear some charity to my wit: do not think it so unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha! Othello. So, so, so, so: they laugh that win. Cassio’s disrespect towards Bianca’s obvious love for his evoked pathos from the audience. ‘Customer’ and ‘charity’ dehumanises and disassociates her from him. The repetition of Cassio’s ‘ha ha ha’ is met by Othello’s ‘so so so so’,
Bianca to Cassio, with Othello watching, unseen: A likely piece of work, that you should find it in your chamber, and not know who left it there! This is some minx’s token, and I must take out the work? Act 4 scene 1
Cassio. This is the monkey’s own giving out: she is persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and flattery, not out of my promise. Othello. Iago beckons me; now he begins the story. Cassio. She was here even now; she haunts me in every place. I was the other day talking on the sea-bank with certain Venetians; and thither comes the bauble,and, by this hand, she falls me thus about my neck— More animal imagery: casts B as sub-human, animal imagery associated with sexual desire. C uses B to satisfy lust: use of verb ‘haunts’; use of prose rather than blank verse. ‘Bauble’: compare to ‘jewel’ and ‘pearl’ of D — links to social class as well as profession. Audience induced to feel pathos for B — C is being ‘dishonest’. Stagecraft — Cassio is laughing while speaking.
Bianca. O my dear Cassio! my sweet Cassio! O Cassio, Cassio, Cassio! Iago. O notable strumpet! Immediately after Iago has killed Roderigo and Roderigo stabbed Cassio, wounding him. (Act 5, scene 1). ‘O notable strumpet’: echoes ‘O’ of Iago, but insincerely. Epistrophe and asyndeton: emotions for C are not simply based on admiration of class: genuine. ‘O my’ — anaphora. ‘Sweet’ and ‘dear’ — epithets unique to B’s attitude to C. Possessive ‘my’; dramatic irony — audience realises C’s lack of emotions for B?
Look you pale, mistress? Do you perceive the gastness of her eye? Nay, if you stare, we shall hear more anon. Behold her well; I pray you, look upon her: Do you see, gentlemen? nay, guiltiness will speak, Though tongues were out of use. Iago to Bianca
Iago. This is the fruit of whoring. Prithee, Emilia, Go know of Cassio where he supp’d to-night. [To BIANCA] What, do you shake at that? Bianca. He supp’d at my house; but I therefore shake not.
Emilia. Fie, fie upon thee, strumpet! Bianca. I am no strumpet; but of life as honest As you that thus abuse me.

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