Othello Themes: Love & Relationships

  • Created by: mhannah
  • Created on: 27-04-18 01:08
View mindmap
  • Othello Themes: Love & Relationships
    • Double standards
      • Codes of conduct for men and women are very different in this play, as they were in Shakespeare'ssoceity
        • Bianca's vulnerable status as "strumpet" reminds us of the double standard
      • Men toy with and discard women as they choose
        • Iago's succesful vilification of Desdemona is they key example of this
          • Iago uses the double standard to his advantage when he blackens Desdemona's name
          • The masculine code of honour is threatened by the idea of active female sexuality, so Iago destroys Othello by making the hero believe his chaste wife has strayed
    • Gender & power
      • The example set by Desdemona shows that male-female relationships are the focus of conflict in this play; they are about opposition and power
      • Throughout the play, we further see power struggles between couples and their friends:
        • Iago competes with Desdemona for Othello's ear
        • Desdemona and Emilia defend themselves against their husbands' suspicions
        • Bianca tries to assert her rights as Cassio's mistress
    • Couples
      • Initially, Desdemona and Othello stand apart from the other couples because they have a harmonious relationship; no disillusionment or dissatisfaction
      • For Cassio and Bianca, this is an unequal match between a "customer" who feels limited affection and a "bauble" whose genuine love makes her unhappy
      • Emili and Iago are a chilling match; marriage has made Emilia cynical about male-female relationships
        • she knows she is merely "food" for Iago, acceptable until she disobeys him and refuses to be silent, at which point her husband tries to kill her
      • The misogyny of Iago casts a dark shadow over Othello's relationship with Desdemona, which seems so full of optimism and delight at the start of the play
      • Othello and Desdemona love each other harmoniouslybecause of the differences they perceive in each other
    • A love triangle?
      • Iago's repsonses to the feminine reveal a mixture of fear and loathing
        • Part of his contempt for Othello is located in the fear that Desdemona has power; Iago has been sidelined
        • mocking references concerning Desdemona being Othello's "genera;" show that he cannot bear the fact that a women exerts influence
        • Iago despises Othello for giving into love, which he sees as a feminine, unworthy emotion
          • Iago loathes the idea of a man being in thrall to a woman, believing Othello is weakened and trapped by love
      • Iago responds to this love between Othello and Desdemona by denigrating Desdemona and making her voice seem unreliable
        • Iago's fake love-- "I am yours forever"-- destroys Othello's real love
        • Othello begins to exert his masculine power in an overbearing way ay because he believes Desdemona has begun to assert herself sexually
          • To any Renaissance husband, this is unacceptable
          • We may see the events of Act IV and V as an attempt by Othello to reassert his own power over Desdemona
            • Because of this, we come to associate masculine love with violence; Iago's misogyny triumps


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all Othello resources »