Portrayal of Women in Othello

The audience’s perception of Desdemona The audience sees Desdemona as something special, more loud than the other female characters but also subordinate to the men
Othello is seen as less worthy once he is married to Desdemona ‘A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife’ (Act 1, Scene 1)
Brabantio sees Desdemona as his property ‘stol’n from me’ (Act 1, Scene 3)
Othello sees Desdemona as her own person, able to make decisions for herself ‘Send for the lady to the Sagittary, And let her speak of me’ (Act 1, Scene 3)Here Othello sees Desdemona as his equal, with her own voice
Desdemona (and women in general) is seen as a treasure to be won ‘I think this tale would win my daughter too’ (Act 1, Scene 3)
Desdemona sees herself as subordinate to the men, she feels that she owes them both and it is suggested that this is what is expected of her ‘I do perceive here a divided duty… You are lord of all my duty… and so much duty as my mother show’d’ (Act 1, Scene 3)
Othello sees her as weak and as such feels that she needs to be protected, and she gets no say in this ‘To his conveyance I assign my wife’ (Act 1, Scene 3)
Desdemona is portrayed as being dependent on Othello ‘And I a heavy interim shall support/ By his dear absence. Let me go with him’ (Act 1, Scene 3)
Emilia is over sexualized ‘Sir, would she give you so much of her lips as of her tongue she has bestow’d on me, you’d have enough’ (Act 2, Scene 1)
Desdemona speaks up for Emilia ‘O, fie upon thee, slanderer’ (Act 2, Scene 1)
Iago portrays Desdemona as deceiving towards Othello ‘it had been better you had not kiss’d your three fingers so oft’ (Act 2, Scene 1)
Desdemona encourages Emilia to be more self-sufficient ‘O most lame and impotent conclusion: do not learn of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband; how say you, Cassio, is he not a most profane and liberal counsellor?’ (Act 2, Scene 1)
Othello sees Desdemona as an echo of himself ‘O my fair warrior’ (Act 2, Scene 1)
Cassio thinks highly of Desdemona ‘virtuous Desdemona’

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