Essay#2.2 final Othello

Essay#2.2 final - 1 Sexual Gender Structure Feminine revolution against the strict confines of a patriarchal society occupies thematically the

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Sexual Gender Structure Feminine revolution against the strict confines of a patriarchal society occupies thematically the works of many historically significant authors from William Shakespeare to Jean Rhys to Rudyard Kipling. Each shapes and molds this subject according to their own ideas and beliefs, often times presenting a contradictory thesis to the others. However, Shakespeare’s play Othello provides one of the most fascinating and insightful examinations. Here, the playwright delves into the structural foundation of societal dominance in respect to traditional “women subordinate to man” gender roles. Two primary aspects which form the foundation of the play; how men manipulate and control the perception of society and therefore keep women stagnant in their station, and women’s attempts to break these social bonds, through the adoption of masculine roles which immediately casts suspicion and discredit upon them. The volatile relationship between Othello and his wife Desdemona clearly exemplifies this gender structure through their interaction with one another. Throughout the play, Othello and his male counterparts establish very specific guidelines to which Desdemona and the other women must adhere. These rules of behavior and social perceptions hinge upon the central themes of obedience, purity, “honest, [and] chaste” (4.3.17). These coupled with a fixation upon “promiscuity” or the yielding of sexual access dictate the action of the play and perception of characters. Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, offers a prime illustration of this philosophy: A maiden never bold; Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion Blush'd at herself; and she, in spite of nature, Of years, of country, credit, everything, To fall in love with what she fear'd to look on! It is a judgment maim'd and most imperfect That will confess perfection so could err Against all rules of nature, (1.3.94-101) Predicating his opinion on the aforesaid societal norms, he presents Desdemona as the penultimate manifestation of this gender ideology. Her lack of “bold[ness]” and “quiet” disposition runs in accordance with the idea of purity and adjectives such as “maiden,” “blush’d,” and “perfection" further enhance the spiritual virginity and saintliness of his daughter. Brabantio elevates his daughter to such and extreme she takes on a Madonna-like persona. (Women should, arguably, aspire to this level.) Desdemona encompasses such innocence that, “her motion/Blush'd at herself.” “She is so modest that she blushed at every though and movement” (Kernan 18). Moreover, Desdemona exists in such a state she,
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This note was uploaded on 05/05/2008 for the course ENG 142 B taught by Professor Watson during the Winter '07 term at UCLA.

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Essay#2.2 final - 1 Sexual Gender Structure Feminine revolution against the strict confines of a patriarchal society occupies thematically the

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