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Hussah's Blog 501

Week 3 Reading Response

September 16th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

For this weeks reading response, I would like to focus on the Chapter 8 reading by Bedford and compare some of the passages with a scene from the play “Othello”. In page 254 of the chapter, Bedford states what makes men and woman different, “That women occupied a position subordinate to men in the early modern period…most thinkers in the sixteenth century took it as axiomatic that men are superior to women”. To relate the gender hierarchy passage to how it relates to most of Shakespeare’s works, especially in Othello, a woman has to get permission from a male figure in order to wed the man that she desires. In fact, in his plays, a woman barely has a say in what she desires since everything is arranged for her. When Desdemona goes to tell her father that she and Othello have eloped, he is against the marriage for several reasons. In this chapter they speak of how patriarchy plays a major role during that time period and this is extremely evident in the plays because Desdemona lived her entire life under the control of her father, which later turned into marrying another man and still needing to ensure that her father still approves of her choices and still has a say in her life. Even though she married another man, you would expect her to not need her father to arrange her life for her and control her since in a patriarchy this control goes to her husband, but no in this play, it does not matter if she got married, her dad will still control her.

I would like to briefly discuss how the patriarchal hierarchy is portrayed in this play. In the play, Othello is a Moore so he is not respected amongst other men, despite him already proving his strength and masculinity by helping them win battles. Because of his race, Iago who is white is more superior than him despite him not having the same achievements as Othello. Because of Iago’s skin tone, this gives him a bigger say in Desdemona’s like that her own husband Othello, since Desdemona’s father is actually willing to hear Iago’s opinions. So in the play, we see that a woman will always be under the control of her father and that even amongst men, their superiority does not come from their achievements but from the color of their skin. In fact, you would expect that since Othello helped with the battles and played a major role, he would be respected amongst these men but throughout the play, they still refer to him as “The Moore”. That reference by itself proves where he stands in the patriarchal hierarchy.


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