Role of women In Othello

Desdemona - The daughter of the Venetian
senator Brabantio, who goes against him to
marry Othello
Emilia - Wife of Iago, and Desdemona’s
Bianca - A courtesan, or prostitute, in Cyprus.
Bianca’s favourite customer is Cassio
Elizabethan woman were raised to believe that
they were inferior to men.
Women were regarded as "the weaker sex", not
just in terms of physical strength, but emotionally
too. It was believed that women always needed
someone to look after them. If they were married,
their husband was expected to look after them. If
they were single, then their father, brother or
another male relative was expected to take care of
Elizabethan Woman were totally dominated by the
male members of their family.
They were expected to instantly obey not only their
father but also their brothers and any other male
members of the family
Elizabethan Women could not be heirs to their father's
titles. All titles would pass from father to son or
brother to brother, depending on the circumstances, it
would not go to the closest women.
Desdemona goes against her father, by
marrying a “Moor.”
 By making her own choices about who to love
goes against everything this time period stands
for. Causing her father Brabantio to believe that
Othello has tricked Desdemona into marrying
him as he doesn't think she is able to make
these types of decisions.
“She is abused, Stolen from me and
corrupted by spells and medicine.”
-Brabantio (Act 1 Scene 3)
Brabantio treats his daughter as nothing but
property. That quote enhances our view, that
women were nothing more than property.
Something that can be “stolen” from them.
Through Desdemona marriage, she has a
divided duty to both her father and her new
husband. However her duty is now with her
husband Othello.
“My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty.
To you I am bound for life and education.
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you. You are the lord of my duty,
I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband,
And so much duty as my mother showed
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.”
(Act 1 Scene 3)
Through Desdemona having her own mind,
causing conflict in her marriage with Othello.
During the start of the play Othello completely
trusts Desdemona, “My life upon her faith!”
(Act 1 Scene 3) however in the later stages in
the play he loses all his trust with her, calling
her a “whore” and claims for her to be “false.”
However he loses this trust through others
around them and what they believe.
“Look at her Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She
has deceived her father, and may thee”
- Brabantio (Act 1 Scene 3)
Desdemona is considered to be naïve.
Despite all her loyalty to her husband, Othello
Physically and verbally abuses Desdemona
throughout the course of this play. Through
actions such as slapping her and calling her a
whore while in the public eye.
By the end of the play, Othello ends up
strangling her and her last breath was used to
tell Emilia that it was all her fault. Even though
Othello strangled her, she remained faithful.
“Nobody--- I myself --- farewell”
- Desdemona (Act 5 Scene 2)
Emilia is described as young and virtuous
character, is referred to simply as the ensign's wife,
and becomes Desdemona's companion in Cyprus.
Emilia is a comparatively minor character for
much of the play; however, she serves to provide a
strong contrast to the romantic and obedient
Desdemona, demonstrating that she is both
intelligent and distinctly cynical, especially on
matters relating to men and marriage - her speech
to Desdemona listing the faults and flaws of the
male sex .
“They are all but stomachs, and we all but
They eat us hungerly, and when they are full,
They belch us. “
- Emilia (Act 3 Scene 4)
For much of the play Emilia is considered to be
the voice of reason.
Even though Emilia is cynical, she also
understands her place, she needs to keep her
loyalties with husband Iago, and just wants to
satisfy him.
What will he do with it, heaven knows, not I: I
nothing, but to please his fantasy.”
- Emilia ( Act 3 Scene 3)
However once Emilia realises what happened
and that through her being loyal to her
husband Iago has end up causing Desdemona’s
death. She then refuses to be silenced on that
“Good gentlemen, let me have leave to speak.
‘Tis proper I obey him, but not now. Perchance
Iago, I will ne’er go home.”
-Emilia (Act 5 Scene 2)
“She give it Cassio? No, Alas I found it, And I
did give’t my husband.
-Emilia (Act 5 Scene 2)
In Act 5 Scene 2, Emilia reveals her true
loyalties, by refusing to let Iago push her
around. Her true loyalty lied with Desdemona,
by her explaining how Cassio obtained the
handkerchief causes Emilia to get stabbed by
her very own husband, Iago.
“Ay, Ay: Oh lay me by my mistress’ side.”
-Emilia (Act 5 Scene 2)
Bianca is a Venetian courtesan who is in love
with Cassio.
Limited but significant role in this play.
Is Neglected by Cassio.
Is not like the majority of women during this
era, as she owns her own house. Showing she is
indeed an individual and not property
“I was coming to your house.”
- Cassio to Bianca (Act 3 Scene 4)
Jealous after receiving the handkerchief .
“O Cassio, whence came this? This is a token
from a newer friend.”
By Cassio giving Bianca the handkerchief,
allows the plot to thicken. As Iago gets Othello
to think Cassio is talking about Desdemona
when he is actually talking about Bianca.
Also through Shakespeare using Bianca as a
character, it allows for a comparison of
Jealousy. Her jealousy after receiving the
handkerchief, is the normal kind of jealousy
compared to Othello's jealousy of Desdemona
where he seeks revenge by planning the
murders of both Desdemona and Cassio.
Bianca has a reason to be jealous, where as
Othello’s jealousy is completely unwarranted.
As he has no proof that Desdemona is “false”
and is just going by hear say.
Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca all play limited
roles in the play of Othello, but all three
characters are vital in the crucial understanding
of the play as a whole, allowing both
relationships and friendships to be destroyed.
These characters also allow comparisons
between characters to understand why William
Shakespeare has written it that way.