Othello Summary Response Outline
- Topic sentence: Act I of William Shakespeare’s Othello shows how women were treated like weak, innocent creatures that were, in a way, the property of men.
- Brabantio, a senator of Venice and Desdemona’s father, is enraged when Othello, a black war leader, marries his daughter. He sees this as “stealing” her, and tracks down Othello. They go to trial much like one would about stolen property. The ownership of women is transferred from father to husband upon marriage, and it’s perceived that their worth is entirely dependent on their ability to marry well and reproduce.
- Women are seen as property in the ways that they can be bought, stolen, or won.
- Topic sentence: Act I of William Shakespeare’s Othello accurately portrays how women were treated as property in a male-dominated world because they were seen as too weak to function on their own.
- Claim 1:
- Women were considered by many characters to be weak and unassuming. They were thought to have no strength of their own, and had to be taken care of by men. Women were treated as the property of men. They were also seen as innocent creatures, who were unable to make rational decisions by themselves concerning their own life or the life of others.
- Evidence: When Iago comes to tell Brabantio that Desdemona had eloped with Othello, he states, “Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!” (Shakespeare 1.1 86).
- Iago considers women to be property, and groups her with other household items that can be stolen.
- Women were treated as property and considered by most men to be weak and incapable.
- Counterclaim 1: However, ....
- Although women are seen as property throughout the play, Othello may be ahead of his time in terms of his view of women.
- Evidence: Othello states, “I love the gentle Desdemona” (Shakespeare 1.1 25).
- While others think women to have no function other than marriage and childbearing, Othello sees the positive actions she performs for herself and others, calling her gentle. He uses an adjective that could only be used to describe a person, not an inanimate object. Although Othello sees Desdemona as a person, her worth is meaningless to the rest of the community.
- Othello was able to fall in love with Desdemona, not just because she was a woman, but because of her personality. Showing that Othello had a modern view regarding women, seeing them as people not property.
A common view is that Othello sees Desdemona as a human being, instead of property, as he calls her “gentle.” This seems like a compliment to her loving nature.
Upon further analysis of how Othello treats Desdemona, he may be no different than the men who view women as weak. In describing her as “gentle,” he portrays Desdemona as weak. Othello may acknowledge that Desdemona is a person, but he would have used a different adjective to describe her if he felt that she was a strong, competent woman, capable of making decisions for herself.