Shakespeare Othello The Character Emilia Thesis

Length: 4 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Sports - Women Type: Thesis Paper: #23529450 Related Topics: Shakespeare, Othello, Character, Abusive Relationships
Excerpt from Thesis :

She states, "I nothing but to please his fantasy," and she does not speculate that her "wayward husband" might have any malicious intent with one of Desdemonda's most precious items. Emila's unfailing trust in her husband is frustrating in light of Iago's deceit, and makes her seem even more remarkable of a character. Even when Desdemonda asks "Where should I lose that handkerchief, Emilia?" Emilia does not mention how badly Iago wanted his hands on the item. In the closest thing to a lie that Emilia tells, she replies, "I know not, madam," (III, iv).

Ultimately, Othello's jealous rage startles Emilia and helps her grow as a character. In one of her boldest moments in the play, Emilia states, "They are all but stomachs, and we all but food; To eat us hungrily, and when they are full, they belch us. Look you, Cassio and my husband!" (III, iv). However, she quiets down as soon as the men enter the room. Her wisdom regarding jealousy emerges more in that scene as Emilia counsels Desdemonda. She declares, "They are not ever jealous for the cause, but jealous for they are jealous: 'tis a monster begot upon itself, born on itself," (III, iv). This reveals Emilia's enormous wisdom in human affairs.

Emilia is not only wise but also progressive. She begins to develop a keener sense of feminist values as the play progresses. In Act IV, scene two Emilia begins to bemoan the maltreatment of women. She decries Othello's calling Desdemonda a whore. Act IV, scene three is particularly revealing of Emilia's progressive attitudes towards gender relations. She is speaking with Desdemonda about Othello's jealousy and about marital infidelity. The conversation begins when the two are talking about Lodovico. Emilia tells Desdemonda, "I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip," (IV, iii). The comment is risque and shows how Emilia is in touch with her own


She encourages Desdemonda to do the same, but it turns out Desdemonda is the more traditional, submissive of the two. While Desdemonda denies that women also have trouble with monogamy, Emilia admits, "I might do't as well i' the dark," (IV, iii). She also goes so far as to say, "who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for't." (IV, iii). Essentially, Emilia is saying that adultery committed by a man is socially acceptable whereas for a woman it is not. Emilia also states, "I do think it is their husbands' faults

If wives do fall," (IV, iii). Here, Emilia shows herself to be a staunch feminist who does not ascribe to traditional gender roles and norms.

Emilia's character carries the theme of misogyny in Shakespeare's Othello. Through Emilia, Shakespeare makes important social commentary on gender roles and norms. Emilia's increasingly outspoken comments about female sexuality, female rights, and relationships with men show how misogyny is one of the primary motives for Iago's murderous behavior. Emilia's loyalty to her friend -- and even to her husband before she realized who he was -- also shows how strong and confident her character is. She is also committed to the truth as she states clearly, "I must needs report the truth," (V, ii). Emilia's feminist side comes out in the final scene of the play when she confronts Othello boldly: "Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil." Finally, Emilia realizes what a villain her husband is and she cries, "May his pernicious soul rot half a grain a day! he lies to the heart," (V, ii). Her death only makes Emilia a martyr, one who stood up for the truth, for friendship, and for women's liberation.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Retrieved online at

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Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Retrieved online at

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