How do the women in Othello affect the lives of those around them?
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The women in Othello are treated as nothing more than property. Desdemona is her father's property up until her marriage to Othello; Emilia is married to Iago. Both women are expected to be subservient to their male counterparts and tolerate their husbands' jealousies. The women in the play have an innate talent for emasculating their men as well. I personally see the man as fully responsible for their own emasculation.
Initially, Desdemona is like a deer in the headlights, although she sees the unknown as exciting..... where she probably should have taken off running. She does the unexpected and thumbs her nose at convention...... and then she pays for doing so, as she becomes her husband's whipping post.
When we first meet Emilia, she is the older, wiser, woman of experience. We can't even compare the two, because Iago's treatment of his wife has already alienated her completely. Unbelievably, both women continue to strive to attain their husbands' attention, and Emilia will eventually betray Desdemona for this very reason.