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Feminism in Othello...

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Marah Allman

on 4 February 2016

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Transcript of Feminism in Othello...

Feminism in Othello...
Key publications
1848: Declaration of Sentiments:
signed by 68 women and 32 men which outlines the problems women faced and creates the basis for the feminist movement. Signed at the Seneca Falls Convention – first women’s conference
Vindication of the rights of Women - Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 - 1797):
one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. Supports women’s intellect and equality of education to civil opportunities
Women in the nineteenth century (1845) - Margaret Fuller (1810 - 1850)
argued that if women were given the more intellectual and spiritual freedom, it would benefit mankind as a whole as she believed mankind will rightfully inherit the earth when he becomes understanding and equal.
The Feminine Mystique - Betty Freidan (1921 - 2006):
addressed that the personal identity of housewives was not fulfilling enough and explores the frustration and repression experienced by women, including herself. It served as a major catalyst for future feminism
The Second Sex - Simone De Beauvoir (1908 - 1986)
: Established the feminist belief that men categorize women as “The Other” and thus oppress women by characterizing and judging them on every detail.

How feminism is applied to Othello
A feminist analysis of the play Othello allows us to judge the different social values and status of women in the Elizabethan society. There are only three women within Othello and the way these women behave is linked to the ideological expectations of Shakespeare’s society and to the patriarchal Venetian society that he creates. Feminist literary criticism attempts to understand the role literary texts play in helping to construct the gender categories. “It is clear that the actions and language of Shakespeare’s three female characters,signify a tentative step towards an egalitarian society”
Historical/Cultural context of feminism
It was not until after the First International Women’s Conference in Paris, 1892, that the French term, ‘féministe’, became regularly used in English for a belief in the advocacy of equal rights for women.
Overview of key ideas
According to Chris Sailus,
“Women were so bound to their husbands that under the 19th-century British common law, they were barely considered people at all.”
Whilst the men of the time were expected to live a public life, it was anticipated that the women remain homebound; cooking, cleaning, and child-bearing. It was only towards the late 19th century that these traditional roles became questioned and began to dissipate.

Therefore, it was the overall belief that women were inferior to men that called for a change in the social standards and the introduction of feminism.

Key personalities
osephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell and Anna Julia Cooper:
National Association of Coloured Women in America (1896)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton: (1815 – 1902
) Social activist and leading figure in movement. Principle author of Declaration of Sentiments
Henrietta Dudale (1827 – 1918) and Annie Lowe (1828 – 1910)
: both established the Women’s Suffrage Society (1884): led to Australia being the first nation to allow women to vote and stand for parliament in 1902
Emmeline Pankhurst: (1858 – 1928)
1900-1914 took part in violent protest and was arrested and hunger strikes
Susan B. Anthony:
She was a suffragist, author and speaker who was president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.

Simone De Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Fuller, Betty Freidan:
All created writings that changed perspectives against women and also publicized women's feelings. They were catalysts for future feminism.

Women as Possessions
Women as Temptresses
Women can be powerful
Within the play of Othello due to the time it is set women are seen to be possessions of the men within their lives. Desdemona, as Othello’s wife, is treated as his possession. Feminists see this as very insulting, but do appreciate that Shakespeare is writing to his time period. ‘Come, my dear love,/The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue’ (II.3.8-9).
Women within Othello are seen to be manipulative and sly just because they are women. Feminist critics speak a lot about the role of women as temptresses in Othello and argue that women only held these traits if they were forced into that situation by a man; similar to the case of Desdemona being seen as a temptress due to the work of Iago.
Perhaps the strongest resemblance to feminism within Othello is the character Emilia. Throughout the play, women were subconsciously stereo-typed by the male mind, influencing many readers and critics. In the end, Emilia cut through that and made the ultimate sacrifice for truth, revealing that while Shakespeare had negatively portrayed women he had no issue showing feminine strength.
http://www.biographyonline.net/women/womens-rights-activists.html - Biography Online
http://www.biographyonline.net/people/women-who-changed-world.html - Biography online
http://womenshistory.about.com/od/simonedebeauvoir/p/de_beauvoir.htm - Jone Johnson Lewis (Women’s History Expert)
http://btweenthecovers.com/2011/12/01/woman-in-the-nineteenth-century/ - Heather (DECEMBER 1, 2011)
http://www.enotes.com/topics/feminine-mystique - The Feminine Mystique Summary
Full transcript