Othello A Level Literature - Theme of Marriage discussion

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Sk8r-Girl
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Hi,

I am currently teaching myself A level lit am aiming to attempt a practice question about the idea of marriage through the play and would love to share some ideas to help.

The question is
Act I Scene 3 lines 249–94
‘Marriage is presented in this extract as a meeting of equals.’
In the light of this view, discuss how Shakespeare presents marriage in this extract and elsewhere in the play.

So far I have thought
Othello and Desdemona
• At first they are presented as equals, their love is hidden and untainted by society and their opinions built on foundations of trust (Othello asks for Desdemona to come, they have nothing to hide)
• As the play progresses and their relationship is brought into the public eye, Othello's view of women is tainted and the trust crumbles
• Until their marriage celebrations, the couple were happy, could Shakespeare be questioning if marriage penultimately leads to unhappiness in a relationship

• Could we say that Othello never really loved Desdemona? Othello's declarations towards her are very public and elaborate? Is he just trying to portray himself as the courtly lover, like Cassio - a caricature. Does Othello understand love? Did Othello actually marry Desdemona for status?

Brabantio
• Views marriage to be a transfer of "goods", Desdemona was "stolen from him"
• Believes it is a fathers choice who a daughter marries
• Marriage was for social or financial gain
• Ensured that the Venetian state remained the same, change was feared


Emilia and Iago
• Obvious that lago had not married for love
• Did lago wish to marry somebody else? Perhaps in love with Othello? Or does he just hate women?
• Degrading relationship, Emilia treated with no respect - NOT EQUAL'S
Emilia wishes only to please her husband, has she given up on love? Sucommbing to jacobean gender roles

Cassio and Bianca
• Only non-married couple

Am I right in what I'm thinking? I'd really appreciate any feedback or contributions, I hope you have a lovely day
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ellieridley23
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Hi I also doing Othello at A-level. I definitely agree with all your ideas the only thing i would personally add is that it is not only Brabantio that sees marriage as more of a transaction than a consumation of love. I would arugue that all the male characters in the play marry for ownership and control of women. For that i would definitely refer to the willow scene and the idea of male honour, which is based heavily on women in the play. For example, Cassio treats Desdemona so well, because she is a representation of Othello's power through their marriage, yet he treats Bianca as much lesser than himself, because she is not defined by a man through marriage, but seen as a single harlot.
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Sk8r-Girl
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(Original post by ellieridley23)
Hi I also doing Othello at A-level. I definitely agree with all your ideas the only thing i would personally add is that it is not only Brabantio that sees marriage as more of a transaction than a consumation of love. I would arugue that all the male characters in the play marry for ownership and control of women. For that i would definitely refer to the willow scene and the idea of male honour, which is based heavily on women in the play. For example, Cassio treats Desdemona so well, because she is a representation of Othello's power through their marriage, yet he treats Bianca as much lesser than himself, because she is not defined by a man through marriage, but seen as a single harlot.
I definitely agree with you with the idea of ownership and control, perhaps I could also include a link to Romeo and Juliet and some context of Elizabeth I being an unwed ruler, thank you so much for your ideas and help it's really appreciated
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