The Treatment Of Blacks And Women In Othello

1799 words - 8 pages

In the Sixteenth century, as we can clearly see from Othello, blacks and women were not treated as equals with the rest of the society. White males were superior to all others. Women were considered second to men and then following that was the black race. Racism is a particularly important theme in the play; it has a great deal of influence on how people in the play regard Othello. Some Characters in the play distrust black people merely on their appearances. A good example of this is Iago. The fact that Othello is a black man in the play immediately categorized him and began making him a very self-conscious man, pushing him to work harder and be more concerned about his reputation. ...view middle of the document...

Further on in the scene Iago yells to Barbantio, "Awake! What ho, Barbatio! Thieves, thieves! Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags! Thieves, thieves!"(I, i, 80-83) Iago is making Barbantio believe that Othello has taken away his property and that perhaps Desdemona was incapable of making the decision to marry the moor. They both agree that Desdemona must have been under some sort of magic spell to make such a stupid decision as to marry the moor. Again this is an indication of how blacks and women were treated during this time period.Even though Othello loves Desdemona, he is misled by the works of Iago, when he is told that his wife is having an affair with Cassio. Because women were not treated as equal to men, Othello begins to trust Iago more than his own wife. Of course once Iago has convinced Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him, he accuses her and she pleads for his trust. Toward the end of the play Desdemona begins realizing that there is nothing she can do and that she is going to have to accept her fate. In the sixteen- hundreds, if a wife was to have an affair with another man it was not taken lightly. It was guaranteed that she would suffer consequences. At this part in the play it seems as if Shakespeare is showing that if women show strength and disobedience, they will eventually be put in their place and brought down to the level of respect women got in the sixteenth century.Emilia, Iago's wife is portrayed as an intuitive and a strong women. Emilia was the type of woman that did not agree with the way women were treated but realized that she was just going to have to accept it.Emilia says her self in Act 3 Scene 4 "Tis not year or two shows us a man.They are all but stomachs, and we all but food; They eat us hungerly, and when they are full, They belch us. Look you, Cassio and my husband."(III, iv, 95-98) What Emilia is saying here is that it doesn't take very long for a woman to figure out what men are like. She believes that all men are merely appetites, and women are nothing but food to them.Later on in Act 4 Scene 3 when Desdemona is talking to Emilia about marriage; revealing her own innocent ignorance, Emilia says, "Why, we have galls; and though we have some grace, yet have we some revenge. Let husband know Their wives have sense like them; they see and smell, And have their palates both for sweet and sour As husbands have."(IV, iii, (90-94) What Emilia is referring to here, is that women have the ability to act independently and the way they want to but they need to act the way the men expect them to be. In the sixteenth century woman were as smart as men and wanted to do similar things men did, but once again, the expectations for a women during these times was that of obedience, and devotion towards thier lover.Bianca is some what of a flat character compared to the other women in the play. She is simply a prostitute, but she is still significant. Bianca is treated much worse by the men than Desdem...

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