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A Feminist Perspective of Othello

A Feminist Perspective of Othello

Throughout the length of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello there is a steady undercurrent of sexism. It is originating from not one, but rather various male characters in the play, who manifest prejudicial, discriminatory attitudes toward women.

In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his hatred for the general Othello for his having chosen Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello: “Call up her father, / Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight [. . .] .” Implied in this move is the fact of a father’s assumed control over the daughter’s choice of a marriage partner. Iago’s warning to the senator follows closely: “’Zounds, sir, you’re robb’d; for shame, put on your gown; / Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul.” This statement also implies that the father has authority over the daughter. Brabantio’s admonition to Roderigo implicitly expresses the same message:

The worser welcome:

I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:

In honest plainness thou hast heard me say

My daughter is not for thee [. . .] . (1.1)

Iago’s continuing earthy appraisals of the situation all seem to bestow upon the father the power to make decisions for the daughter. Roderigo even calls Desdemona’s action a “revolt” against paternal authority: “Your daughter, if you have not given her leave, / I say again, hath made a gross revolt [. . .] .” Upon verifying the absence of his daughter from the home, Brabantio exhorts all fathe…

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…view, LXIV, 1 (Winter 1956), 1-4, 8-10; and Arizona Quarterly (Spring 1956), pp.5-16.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Muir, Kenneth. Introduction. William Shakespeare: Othello. New York: Penguin Books, 1968.

Neely, Carol. “Women and Men in Othello” Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994. (page 68-90)

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

Wayne, Valerie. “Historical Differences: Misogyny and Othello.” The Matter of Difference: Materialist Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed Valerie Wayne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Poe’s Fall of The House of Usher Essay: Biographical Contexts

Biographical Contexts For The Fall of the House of Usher

In the summer of 1838, Edgar Allan Poe left the city of New York, where he faced criticism and minimal recognition, and moved to Philadelphia, where he would soon gain profound success (Quinn 268). Just a year prior to this move, Poe married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who accompanied him to Philadelphia (Wagenknecht 18). Little is known of Poe’s time in New York other than the fact that he faced severe poverty with total earnings amounting to under one hundred fifty dollars (Peeples 31). Therefore, since Philadelphia shared the prestige with New York as a publishing center, it offered Poe new publishing opportunities and opened the doors to success (Quinn 268). He found this success editing Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine from 1839-1840 and then Graham’s Magazine from 1841-1842 (Peeples 74). During this time, Poe delivered lectures on American poetry, published thirty-six tales including “William Wilson,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and also released a collection of stories in 1840 entitled Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (Peoples 74). It was during this peak of Poe’s publishing career that he published “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This tale relates to various aspects of Poe’s life including his occupation as an editor, his battle with alcohol and drugs, his psychological and emotional well-being, and the impact of death on his life and work.

Although Poe found success while working for Burton and Graham, he did not find contentment, for neither Burton’s magazine nor Graham’s met Poe’s expectations of his ideal publication. Poe was frustrated with his career and aspired to edit a magazine of his own, a magazine of …

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…mes of his publishing career, yet Poe faced many obstacles in his private life during this time including poverty and alcohol abuse. Although his alleged alcohol and drug addictions are issues yet to be settled, they were clearly an influence in his life and work. In addition to his habits regarding alcohol and drugs, his psychological stability has also been called into question. The impact of death, which was prevalent throughout his life, was tremendous. Regardless of the many struggles Poe encounter, he has emerged as one the greatest Romantic writers in American history.

Works Cited

Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1998.

Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. New York: Coopers Square Publishers, 1969.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Edgar Allan Poe: The Man Behind the Legend. New York: Oxford UP, 1963.

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