Gender Roles In Shakespeare's The Tragedy Of Othello

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Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Othello concerns the issues of racial inequality, but at its core, it also explores society's enforcement of gender roles on women and the way they are treated and act despite being forced into these roles by their male counterparts – they are forced to function in their appropriate gender roles in a society conditioned by war in order to survive. The portrayal of women divided into the categories of virgin and whore, consequently leading the two to be confused with each other, ultimately creating the tragedy that is Desdemona's death in the final moments of the play. There are only three women in Shakespeare's Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca, and each play a role that identifies with a certain aspect of socially accepted gender roles towards women. The society presented in Othello is based upon the ideology popular during Shakespeare's lifetime and its patriarchal Venetian society considers women to be possessions meant to remain submissive to their fathers' or husbands' wills. Despite it being…show more content…
Women are seen as their fathers' and husbands' property and the relationships of the only two married couples are poisoned by jelaousy and abuse as both wives are eventually murdered by their own husbands in the final scenes of the play. Furthermore, many of Shakespeare's male characters in this play believe that the women of their society are inherently promiscuous, explaining the threat female sexuality play to men in the tragedy. Within the exploration of these roles, there is a constant comparison between the only three women of the play, the most notable being the contrast between Desdemona's idealistic and moral character, and Bianca's more lewd and passionate character. However, Emilia and her monologue unite the three of them within a spectrum of gender roles that emphasize their need to create a harmonized balance in order to

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