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In Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Othello Bianca is a female character who plays a pivotal role in the development of the plot. It is correct about her character that she is a prostitute, she is famous for this position.
There are as many opinions as to the readers about her character according to the theme of the play. Although the novel is all about race but the most concerned theme is the role of women and the authority of male structure. There comes Bianca’s role in observation.
Women were Weaker
In the earlier periods of history, women were considered “morally, physically and intellectually weaker than men” (Eales, 3). By this understanding, it is necessary to rule over women and it was man’s duty to teach them.
Women were identified by which male they were being governed, like brothers, father or husband. Women were defined by “how they related to marriage: virgins, wives or widows” (Jankowski, 24).
Married Women & Prostitutes
Married women were given ideal status because they were ruled by their husbands. Prostitutes were not acceptable in society because they were governed by no man. They move freely and without any fear. In the play, they even control men with their acts.
Jankowski states that “if marriage is a norm, women who were not married, for whatever reason, challenged the norm and were consequently seen as threatening” (25).
It was believed that women without marriage were free and apt to indulge in sins. Men were unable to digest this fact that women can survive without their control.
They were afraid that women will prove these theories wrong and the prostitutes were on their way to doing the same and face the society with courage.
Bianca is Also a Victim
Bianca, in Othello, is the character who is facing all this social pressure and is an example of the fear of men towards women’s empowerment. Bianca is brave enough to show her sexual prowess and her love for Cassio.
She denies her being a prostitute on many occasions, so it is not clear whether she is a prostitute or not. Emilia once called Bianca a ‘strumpet’ in act V, scene 1, to which Bianca replies as “I’m not strumpet but of life as honest as you that thus abuse me” (5.1.122).
Purity in Spirit
Bianca is more loyal to her man and chaste than Emilia, who condones infidelity if the consequences are high enough. So it can be concluded about Bianca that she is more sexually free women and pure in spirit.
Bianca is devoted towards Cassio and he is afraid of seeing himself under her power. This also shows the fear of men because of women empowerment.
Openness – A Threat
Bianca’s character is an example of shattering the old beliefs about male superiority. She refuses the subordination and faithfulness to men.
Society is unable to accept such characters due to their freedom from male domination and are called as who res and prostitutes. Instead of creating space for them, it is the last thing men do.
- Shakespeare, W. (1886). Othello (Vol. 6). JB Lippincott Company.
- Eales, Jacqueline. Women in Early Modern England, 1500 – 1700. London: UCL, 1998. Print.
- Jankowski, Theodora A. Women in Power in the Early Modern Drama. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1992. Print.