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Critical Feminist Theory

Zack Price

“Object of my affection”: Women are only seen as a man’s object, not as an equal

• Due to society, women cannot obtain social equality

Desdemona is murdered by Othello in order for Othello to take out his anger and get rid of a burden causing him intense anger and sadness. His mind is warped from Iago, an outside source, and he sees reasons of an affair that are not true. “Tis pitiful; but yet Iago knows That she with Cassio hath the act of shame A Thousand times committed. Cassio confessed it; And she did gratify his amorous works With that recognizance and pledge of love, Which I first gave her. I saw it in his hand. It was a handkerchief, an antique token My father gave my mother” Act V. Scene II. Lines 207-214. pg 122. At the end of the play, however, when Othello is pathetically attempting to justify Desdemona’s murder, he merely refers to the proof of guilt afforded by Cassio’s possession of “the recognizance and pledge of love,/ Which I first gave her; I saw it in his hand,/ It was a handkerchief; an antique token/ My father gave my mother” (V. ii. 215-218).
Honest Othello: The Handkerchief Once More Author(s): Michael C. Andrews Source: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 13, No. 2, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (Spring, 1973), pp. 273-284 Published by: Rice University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/449739

Othello is so set on that he is correct about Desdemona that he does not believe her. He takes the word of Iago, over that of his wife’s. He allows false information to sway his idea. This shows that the word of a woman is not even close to that of a man. Othello cannot even listen to his own wife, but kills her anyways based on false information. Desdemona is causing him pain so he gets rid of that pain. This shows that her life is not very valued, and that she can be replaced if she is not meeting his needs.

• • •

Desdemona, Bianca, and Emilia, are only possessions of their men. Women do not have the same status as men, and never will be able to reach equality. “No, I will speak as liberal as the north. Let heaven and men and devils, let them all, All, all, cry shame against me; yet I’ll speak.” Act V. Scene II. Lines 216-218. pg 122 The play delineates these characters most clearly in terms of marital status: Desdemona is an adulterous wife; Emilia a chaste wife;and Bianca a prostitute who wishes to become a wife. Othello, Iago, and Cassio (the respective mates for Vogel's trio of Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca) never actually appear in the adaptation, although they collectively function as an absent presence that defines female behavior.
Erotic Politics Reconsidered: Desdemona's Challenge to Othello ELIZABETH GRUBER, LOCK HAVEN UNIVERSITY http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/cocoon/borrowers/pdf?id=781790

The quote from Emilia above, represents that she realizes that a woman is not supposed to speak out in a group of men. This represents that woman are inferior to the men, and should only interject when spoken to or given permission. Before this interjection, Iago told Emilia to be quiet, then ordered her to go home. The man has the upper hand in the relationship and society. His wife works for him and is supposed to follow orders. This is also a part of marriage.

• • •

Bianca, the prostitute, cannot even become a wife. Bianca is taken away and blamed for a crime in which Iago committed, but because of the fact that she is a woman, and a prostitute, she is taken away without question. “Gentlemen all, I do suspect this trash To be a party in this injury.”Act V. Scene 1. Lines 85-86. Page 112. In the last scene of Act I, Roderigo is so sorrowful he is ready to drown himself, but Iago is trying to reason with him as to whythat’s a terrible idea. He tells him to be patient, for “[Desdemona]must change for youth: when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice. She must have change, she must” (862). Iago equates men with reason while relating women to feelings. Women are creatures of desire and must strive to practice self-control.

CORY HALBIG Shakespeare’s Othello and the InsidiousCreation of an Unwilling Villian http://www.usi.edu/libarts/amalgam/2007/halbig.pdf

The last part of that secondary source represents that women are sexual beings while men are the thinkers and leaders of society. That also plays back into the idea that women are the sexual objects of men, not their equals. Desdemona is described by Iago as a sexual being who craves men. This also holds true for the character of Bianca. She is a prostitute who is used by men as a sex object. She easily takes the fall for Roderigo’s murder because it looks better to blame it on a prostitute rather than Iago, the army lieutenant. She is equal to “trash” not a man.

• In the story Othello, women take the fall for the wrong doings of men. They are seen as sexual beings, and as objects rather than equals. Othello blames Desdemona for a crime she did not commit and this leads to her death. He does not reason with his wife, and takes the word of Iago’s over hers. Also, Bianca the prostitute, is blamed for killing Roderigo. She is taken away, without question, and takes the fall for the crime of a man. It is much easier to blame a woman prostitute than a lieutenant. The men are also the upper class of society, and the best a woman can be is a husband or prostitute. Due to a man run society, a woman’s life is taken, and another’s exploited.

• http:// www.borrowers.uga.edu/cocoon/borrowers =781790 • http://www.usi.edu/libarts/amalgam/2007/halbi • http://www.jstor.org/stable/449739 • http://lilt.ilstu.edu/rlbroad/teaching/studentpubs

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