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In Defense of Desdemona

            In Act II, Scene I of Shakespeare's Othello, Iago voices his strong misogynistic opinion towards women-that every woman is the same, shrewd monster whether pretty, ugly, smart, or dumb; and that only when women are obedient and submissive, they are worth praise. Iago's misogynistic view on the opposite gender is commonly used to turn women into monstrous beings and is portrayed in the theses of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's, Monster Culture (Seven Theses). Women are perceived as monstrous because of the widespread patriarchal and misogynistic borders that have been erected throughout history. This historical culture has been constructed and followed for thousands of years, which has lead to the generalized and crippling social norms established and policed by white males in order to maintain a patriarchal society. When a woman like Desdemona threatens to disrupt these strict social boundaries through an interracial marriage and general outspokenness, a white male such as Iago feels threatened, responds as the victim of this so-called monster, thus further expressing the patriarchal superiority that has been written throughout history. .
             In Act II Scene I, the great debate begins after Iago insults his own wife, Emilia. When Desdemona defends her friend and fellow woman, Iago responds, "Come on, come on; you are pictures out of doors,/Bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens,/Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,/Players in your housewifery, and housewives' in your beds" (2.1.109). Desdemona's act of speaking out against a male is immediately punished in Iago's retort through his perceived victimization. This leads us to Cohen's third thesis of category crisis, "[Desdemona's] refusal to participate in the classificatory 'order of things' is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration" (6).

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