Shakespeare’s Othello portrays a process through which pure evil has an effect on love and morality. The character of Iago twists Othello into killing his wife, and eventually himself, through manipulating Othello’s trust and loyalty. Iago uses the handkerchief as a symbol through which Othello is convinced of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. This handkerchief plays many roles throughout Othello. Because of the importance placed upon this object, the driving force of the play becomes centered on the particular qualities of this handkerchief. In its most important aspect, the handkerchief becomes associated with a kind of web set by Iago, in order to ensnare both Othello and Desdemona.
At the beginning of Act II, Iago begins to formulate his plans to bring down Othello. As Cassio takes Desdemona’s hand and welcomes her, Iago says:
He takes her by the palm. Ay, well said, whisper! With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon her, do! I will gyve thee in thine own courtship.-You say true; ‘tis so, indeed! – If such tricks as these strip you out of you lieutenantry, it had been better you had not kissed your three fingers so oft…(II,i L.166-72)
In this passage, Iago plans to use Cassio in his plan to destroy Othello. Rather than merely stating his desire to do this, Iago uses imagery based around a spider’s web. By doing so, ideas of creation, self utilization, and entrapment are brought into the plot concerning Othello. Iago likens himself to a spider, who spins a web from his own mind which will trap people, and cause them to serve his own needs. This passage shows the extent to which Iago foresees his own designs. Iago does not take an active role …
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…y, and painful reality. He can no longer trust what he believes, and must follow what he believes “Nature” has told him to do. Because Othello has strong feelings these are the only thing he is certain of feeling, and therefore follows them. This is not a man who remembers what the past has taught him. Othello now looks at the handkerchief as threads woven for the sole purpose of maligning his trust, and his life. He has lost sight of Iago’s manipulating words, in favor of action through anger and retribution. Iago has created a web of lies around Othello to accomplish two things. Othello becomes uprooted from any comfort and security gained from the past by Iago’s lies. After this has been accomplished, this web of lies gives Othello the support he desperately needs. This new dedication, however, orchestrates Othello’s downfall, and Iago’s momentary triumph.
Feminism in Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Feminism in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
While Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin overtly deals with the wrongs of slavery from a Christian standpoint, there is a subtle yet strong emphasis on the moral and physical strength of women. Eliza, Eva, Aunt Chloe, and Mrs. Shelby all exhibit remarkable power and understanding of good over evil in ways that most of the male characters in Stowe’s novel. Even Mrs. St. Claire, who is ill throughout most of the book, proves later that she was always physically in control of her actions, however immoral they were. This emotional strength, when compared with the strength of the male characters, shows a belief in women as equals to men (if not more so) uncommon to 19th century literature.
In 1848, the first ever Women’s Rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Though Stowe did not attend, many of those who were strong in the abolitionist movement, such as Fredrick Douglas and Amy Post, did. Thus a correlation was drawn between the abolitionist movement and women’s rights. Both fights were about equality, so naturally those who were supportive of emancipation were supportive of gender equality as well.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin not only follows the life of Uncle Tom, spanning from the time he is sold from his longtime master until Tom’s death, but also follows the life of Eliza, another slave who lives on the Shelby plantation with Tom as the novel begins. But unl…
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…Topsy, but help her repent as well, for Topsy later says, “I will try, I will try; I never did care nothin’ about it before” (94).
Uncle Tom’s Cabin contains almost as basic of a moral as any story could; love has no physical barriers. The goal of Stowe’s novel is to show that in terms of race. But at the same time Stowe shows it in terms of gender as well. By making the female characters more morally righteous than the male characters and displaying the women’s physical feats more overtly than the men’s, Stowe enables the audience to see a side of women relatively unseen in 19th century American culture.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” New York: Grosset