Consider the Portrayal of Marriage
Inter-racial marriage between young woman, older man
Passion-driven romance, Desdemona is attracted to the mystery and masculinity of Othello and his escapades (hero-worship)
Othello is physically dominant here: slaps Desdemona, ends up strangling her
Stella and Stanley’s marriage based on physical attraction
Class-difference puts strain on marriage, especially when Blanche brings it to forefront
Stereotypical gender roles are in full force here
The men in both these plays are clearly the dominant figures in these marriages. The relationships are built on lust and sexual attraction, and the proud nature of the men leads them to to go extremes to protect their marriages when they feel threatened. They treat the women as objects, almost, who belong to them and no one else. In Stanley’s case, he is afraid that Blanche will persuade Stella to leave him and go with her, so he rapes Blanche (very extreme) as the ultimate display of male dominance, thus eliminating the threat. In Othello, Iago plants the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind about Desdemona’s virtue, which eventually drives him into a jealous madness and leads to him murdering Desdemona and committing suicide. Both males are also physically abusive in these plays: Othello slaps and strangles Desdemona while Stella is victim to drunken beatings at the hand of Stanley.
Tennessee Williams was exposed his entire childhood to an unhappy, abusive relationship. His father “had a violent temper and was a man prone to use his fists”.
What are the authors saying about marriage?
Neither of these are by any means fairy-tale, happy-ending marriages. Both portrayals of marriage feature a dominant masculine figure and a younger, decidedly unworldly female. Marriage does not guarantee happiness.
Compare and contrast: Stella and Stanley’s marriage lasts because she is not willing to put anything above it. Their marriage, while equal to O/D’s in abusiveness, lasts because Stanley eliminates the external forces (Blanche) that are assaulting it, while Othello succumbs to the external force (Iago) that is aggravating his marriage.
Obedience is key to a happy marriage:
Othello loses self-confidence after way of expressing manliness is taken away (natural causes defeat Turks, so he is no longer a warrior), Blanche threatens to take away Stanley’s dominance and in a way, manhood, so he eliminates her.
In this essay, I will be comparing and contrasting the marriages between Stella and Stanley