The purpose of this paper is to determine the role of gender in Shakespeare’s play Othello. This paper argues that patriarchy and the Elizabethan and Puritan society shape the gender roles of Othello. The Puritan society asserts the dominance of men which affects the males behavior towards their wives or significant other. On the other hand, the male characters such as Othello need to maintain and establish hegemony over women which displays the patriarchal tradition during that era.
The patriarchal Puritan society presented in Othello, influenced on the ideology of Elizabethan England, belittles and oppresses women. Men consider women to be possessions, who are to remain submissive at all times. The only power that women seem to be able to possess is their sexual power. The roles and statuses of the female characters essentially "are determined by their place in the paradigm of marriage--maiden/wife/widow--which likewise governed the lives of Renaissance women" (Neely 2). Throughout this evolvement, a woman becomes the property of her male heir. Although the men regard the women as inferiors, the women rarely confront or…show more content… There is a large body of evidence to support this critical stance such as when Desdemona declares ‘I am obedient’ (III.3.89), continuing to obey Othello’s orders from the early happy stages of their relationship to the later stages of his jealousy. Even when he orders Desdemona to go to her bed towards the end of Act IV, she submissively responds with ‘I will, my lord’ (IV.3.9). In her final breath she still remains true to her husband, saying ‘Commend me to my kind lord’ (V.2.125). She appears to have completely accepted her role as subordinate and obedient wife. Although Desdemona submits to her husband, it does not make her weak or downtrodden. The Venetian society has made societal norms which have caused women to know submission as