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There are three key points where we see violence against women in “Othello”. Firstly, when Othello strikes his wife in public, then when he kills her, and when Iago stabs his wife, Emilia.
It is in Act IV scene i when Othello, much charged by Iago’s evil suggestions about Desdemona and Cassio, strikes his wife. It is regarded as a grievous action from a civilized man, and Othello is called upon by Lodovico to account and apologise for his actions –
My lord, this would not be believed in Venice,
Though I should swear I saw't. 'Tis very much:
Make her amends; she weeps.
Sadly Othello’s jealousy and monstrous behaviour grow in equal measure, until he kills his wife rather than endure the shame of cuckoldry in Act V scene ii –
Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
For to deny each article with oath
Cannot remove nor choke the strong conception
That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
He is emotional at her death, as if her killing has more to do with maintaining honour than avenging jealousy. Iago’s slaying of his wife, Emilia in Act V scene ii, has none of this emotion or empathy. His actions are purely selfish, if not psychopathic. Emilia manages to reveal the truth of her husband’s cruel plot, and asks to be laid at the side of her honourable mistress-
Moor, she was chaste; she loved thee, cruel Moor;
So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true;
So speaking as I think, I die, I die.
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