Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen and “Othello” by William Shakespeare are two fascinating stories that elicit feelings of sadness, moral decay, warmth and above all femininity. The two narrations can bring out more transparently the aspect of femininity and the role of women in society. They explore the attitudes of women characters and how they are used in shaping the entire stories from the start to the end. In both stories, the women characters are the center of interest from where the plot and other characters revolve. The attitude towards the female characters is also happed in a big way but the time in history though when these stories were written. In all the cases, women are not seen as critical persons in society, but through the efforts and beauty of the characters, they can control the men that are seen as the social gods. The abilities of women are therefore indispensable and make the stories even more enjoyable. The essay will critically analyze the attitudes towards women and femininity in “Othello” by William Shakespeare and “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen is a complex and controversial novel. It brings the about an exciting story of the little girl named Fanny and the life in the Mansfield Park which is headed by her wealthy aunt, Lady Bertram and Uncle Sir Thomas. Fanny comes to the park when she is only ten years old, and this was to escape the poverty in her own family. This is because her father was a drunk and at the same time disabled. The place of women in the novel is callous, and many have to survive through marriages; it was only through marriage that women can acquire wealth and status. Thus every lady in the novel struggles to get wealthy men regardless of the characters traits in others to become wealthy. The parents and relatives are also a significant part in this attempt to look for the best suitors for their daughters to make them have wealthy men. For instance, it is evident through Mrs. Norris who can get wealth but boring Rushworth to Maria (Austen, p.4) Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
“Othello” by Shakespeare is a significant play that brings into focus the tragedy that befalls many characters. It is a play that evokes mixed reactions towards the characters of women who are married to men that are not morally able. The character of Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio, and Emilia are fascinating in their way. The play brings out the complexity of these characters on their verge to win the heart of Desdemona even without her approval (Shakespeare, p.52). Throughout the play, the men under the leadership of Iago define a strategy to snatch Desdemona from Othello. The play gets fascinating and tragic towards the end when the men starts killing each other for the sole purpose of winning Desdemona. Similar, to the novel by Austen, this play by Shakespeare is a constant depiction of societal decays where marriage meant everything for women and who prefer to marry men in power and wealth than loving ones. For instance, Desdemona even goes against her father’s will to marry Othello (Vozar, p.183) Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
Women are seen as people that should remain sober and beautiful to find befitting men in marriage. On the other hand, men are very reckless throughout the novel and live careless lives apart from a few such as Edmund that seen very calm throughout the novel. The aspect of morality is tested in both stories where women from low-income families are more determined to marry wealthy and powerful men to acquire a better status in society. For instance, Fanny comes out as a very upright girl who is not interested in all the pleasures of life and lives a calm life (Kirkham, p.130). She can withstand all the challenges she goes through under the Bertram family and in the end, gets the lover of her life. It is a rare aspect in the novel seeing that all other women including Maria, Julia, and Mary try hard to get the men they wanted and even openly pronounced their love, but then Fanny is very calm in her love and takes all the time to engage and only accepts the proposal of the upright man. This is an essential point in the novel which tries to show that amidst all the challenges well reserved and intelligent women will at least get the best man in marriages even if not the wealthy one (Kirkham, p.131).
On the other hand, the play by Shakespeare is very critical of women and brings out the aspect of men’s jealousy and though this affects the women in the play. For instance, the entire ordeal starts when a prominent military general known as Othello promoted Cassio, a less qualified soldier into the position of lieutenant instead of Iago. It is from this point that Iago starts to plan the downfall of both men and he comes up with a craftily mastered plan to destroy them using Desdemona. Without the knowledge of other characters, Iago can come up with a mind game where he keeps every other character engaged in attempts to make them have bad feelings amongst themselves (Shakespeare, p.17) Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
The novel brings out the aspect of love as the most significant thing in a woman’s life. She brings out all the women characters as ones that are greed for love. However, this love is not a predicate, controllable or logical as many falls in love and break out soon to find better partners. Women are in constant efforts to elope and get to understand the partners they want even without taking enough time. In many instances, they find themselves with people who do not love them, and this causes many challenges in the lives of women in the novel. The novel is set in a high patriarchy society where women seem to beg for love to the heartless and messy men. For instance, Mary, Maria, and Julia keeps on revolving around men who seem not overly interested in them.
Nonetheless, there is a sober love in the novel through the character of Fanny (Austen, p.32). She can identify a man whom she loves and even refuses the proposal from other men such a Henry to safeguard her feelings to Edmund. She is also not ready to marry Henry for their wealth and status, but she is seen to be more focused on true love and her personal feelings. She is a woman that is no ashamed to refuse a man’s hand in marriage as is the case with others (Kirkham, p.134).
The love in the play by Shakespeare is a bitter kind of love that tries to bring out women as infidels. This is through the efforts created by Iago whom successful manipulates Othello into believing that Desdemona was cheating on him with Cassio. This reflection of women as cheaters is in the mind of men in the lay and which is an attempt to power the status of women in society. It is also sad that once a woman is thought to be engaged in infidelity, she is killed even without proper investigation. This is evident in the case of Othello smothering his wife just because of hearsay about her actions. It is the steadfast love that men have for women that makes them weak in this case (Shakespeare, p.12). Therefore, it is evident that even though a woman may be vulnerable physically, her love is a healthy thing which makes even the strongest man vulnerable. This is because even though Desdemona is a woman her effect is felt throughout the novel where every character revolves around her. In the end, the tragic events happen because of this woman where men are unable to control their love (Shakespeare, p.87) Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
Women are brought out as wise and non-discriminatory. This is seen through the ability of Desdemona to marry Othello, a black man in the contest where there were white men. It is this choice that makes her life in the play very challenging as other white men were determined to bring Othello down. They even refer to him using abusive language in a show of how much they hated him due to his complexion. On the other hand, the choice of Fanny in marrying Edmund is also a very significant move as she did not choose to move in with Henry who was more wealthy and powerful. These aspects show that women can make wise decisions based on their personal feelings and likes and no as a result of their social, religions and economic background as is the case with men (Vozar, p.184).
Women are seen as symbols of deception and mistrust. This is through the way Othello treats his wife amid his close friends. In the first place, Desdemona refused to marry Cassio and instead married Othello. This was a great show of maturity and decision that his lady made. However, Othello does not see the determination of his wife and the love she has for him. He, however, listens to the theatrics of Iago who is determined to bring his marriage down. The trust that Othello has for Iago is firm that he feels his wife is all wrong. Any attempts by Desdemona to explain to Othello about Her relationship with Cassio are made worse by the efforts of Iago. At this point, the writer can show that women are both loving and caring. This is because even though Desdemona refused to marry Cassio she still has great sympathy for him, and this is the reason she also tries to convince Othello to give him some position. However, men are seen as evil beings that even after being turned down by women are determined to pursue and destroy their marriages. This is seen in the way Cassio tries to approach Desdemona without her knowledge only to ruin her marriage later (Shakespeare, p.45) Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
Moreover, in the novel by Austen, the aspect of deception is also noticeable. This is because women are only there to get married and can only say yes or not to men who want to marry them. Women have been deceived that their only duty in the world is to get married and many abide by these patriarchal assigned roles. Also, when a woman has issues with a man, it is the women that are supposed to take the blame even if the issue was caused by the man. Women are far much segregated, and unequal laws are applied where women believed that they could only rise into better persons through marriage (Kirkham, p.136).
In “Mansfield Park," Fanny is an accurate representation of women that are principled and patient. She can patiently wait upon Edmund even though there are many challenges with other relatives. She is an ever principled lady who speaks less and watches from the side as others live in an exciting and entertaining life. She is not forced by the traditions to get into the haste of marriage like all others but instead remains calm, and in the final hour, she gets what she has all through wanted. The character of Fanny is, therefore, an essential approach to the femininity aspect where it is seen that through assertiveness women can achieve whatever they want in life (Austen, p.38). Also, the play by Shakespeare is a very tactical one in this respect. It depicts the character of Desdemona who against all the will marries a man of her choice. She can make good decisions about her life and this show that she is a principled lady, also, Emilia; Iago’s wife shows great wisdom and respect by tirelessly serving Desdemona and also bringing the truth out about the handkerchief and the evils of her husband. It is this truth that makes Othello see the reality of the matter and causes his death (Vozar, p.186).
Women in “Othello” are exposed to unjust laws. This is because; in the beginning, Brabantio is seen seeking justice by claiming that his daughter has been bewitched into marrying a black man. This shows that society saw women incapable of making rightful decisions. Also, Othello is sure that Desdemona is cheating on him and in response feels that there should be justice. This makes him kill Desdemona to seek justice ruthlessly. This is an accurate depiction that women are victims of violence and no one questioned their killings.
On the other hand, there was no justice for women like Fanny in “Mansfield Park” who were exposed to torture by being from low-income families. However, in both stories, the importance of women is evident as without them even the men cease to exist. This is seen in “Othello” where after killing Desdemona the men turn to kill themselves as guilty consumes their evil deeds(Shakespeare, p.75) Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
The attitudes and femininity of the two stories are very evident and overlaps to bring some of the most intriguing and fascinating narrations. In both stories, women are seen as symbols to be used by men to fulfill their egos and purpose in life. On the other hand, women are only able to rise into power through marriage to wealthy men. However, in all the stories the presence of women is indispensable, and it is through them that all other characters, themes, and plot are developed hence depicting the importance of female character to the writers and the ideal form of femininity in the two stories Masculinity vs femininity characteristics.
Kirkham, Margaret "Feminist Irony and the Priceless Heroine" pages 117–131 from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, New York: Chelsea House, 1987 pages 130–131.
Shakespeare, W. “Othello," Retrieved from,
Austen Jane, “Mansfield Park." Retrieved from, https://www.lingue.uniurb.it/matdid/klaver/2010-11/Mansfield%20Park.pdf
Vozar, Thomas M. (2012). "Body-Mind Aporia in the Seizure of Othello." Philosophy and Literature. 36(1): 183–186