The idea of “Female Identity” in Shakespeare’s Othello

Categories: OthelloShakespeare

The idea of “Female Identity” and the growth of a woman despite the attacks of a man both verbally and physically, or therefore lack of, is visibly shown in Shakespeare’s Othello. Many focus on the hope of that the social phenomenons of a woman would arise a stronger, new, intense and independent female character, even against the sexual, physical and verbal abuse produced and given off by powerful male figures in the play. Shakespeare uses each woman to represent the effects a woman has on a man, though it may be seen as the other way around.

Each of these three women, Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca, oppose and contest the stereotypical roles constructed by the populace of Venice and Cyprus in the early 1600’s, and in the times of strict social hierarchies.

In the time period Othello is set in, it is a common misconception that women are viewed as objects or trophies to the men they ‘belong’ to. This is especially revealed in the moments that Bianca and Cassio spend together.

Her deep, undeniable, affection for Cassio is viewed as foolish. She was a woman, not afraid of her sexual desires, which justifies why she is misconstrued as a ‘jealous whore.’ She has very brief and minimal appearances, but plays a tremendous role in Iago’s scheme to encourage Desdemona’s infidelity. She is used as a laughing stock, and distraction for Cassio during the plot. Her unfathomable jealousy for Cassio, corroborates the accusation of Desdemona’s scandals, in Othello’s eyes.

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Being loyal and having loyalty, is giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution. Signs of loyalty are through Desdemona to Othello, and Emilia to Desdemona. Desdemona, naive and innocent, idolizes her husband, Othello, for the daring, action-packed future he seems to lead. When accused of her disloyalty, she fears her husband’s temper. This is why she speaks with the intent to deceive Othello of the situation with the handkerchief. It is very uncommon for a female to commit adultery in this time period, not impossible, but uncommon. Desdemona, a pure, good, and honorable woman, is misused as a target in a systematic plan of deceit. Therefore, she must fight against all roles and stereotypes being pushed upon her. Emilia, does the same as well. While it is unusual and rare to oppose a man, Emilia, defends Desdemona against her husband, Iago’s, lies and his foolish, wicked actions, including attacking him for the villain he truly is.

It is a regular misbelief that women are nothing more than a housewife, or used to please a man, and the book Othello, is a book that embodies the three masculinist ideas of women. Even the purest of pure, and the wretched of wretch, fight against the cliché roles given to by the people surrounding them. They have to work hard to push past the manner expected for a woman, without the fear of what will happen. The three women in Othello, do a robust job of this and use the truth to fight each lie they are faced with to protect each others reputation. The idea of a stereotypical woman is fought roughly against in Othello, just as it should be.

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The idea of “Female Identity” in Shakespeare’s Othello. (2021, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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