Women's loss of power is another issue that critics often deconstruct, yet this concept is also linked to the principles of courtly love.
Within the courtly love tradition men were often submissive to women—in Chretien de Troyes' Lancelot and Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale," men tended to bend to the will of women, often finding happiness and true love by doing so.
The Moor General Othello is first presented as a submissive husband, but as the play progresses, the embarrassment of Desdemona's presumed infidelity begins to unravel his ideas of love.
Courtly lovers were a dying breed in Shakespeare's time, yet he employs the use of basic courtly love principles not only in Othello, but in many of his works, particularly comedies like the Merry Wives of Windsor and As You Like Lt.
The use of such principles allows ridicule and scorn to take place in the plays, but in Othello, courtly love introduces the themes of cuckoldry and, most importantly, women's loss of power.
Chastity and honor were the virtues of the day for women in the Middle Ages.
Courtship as we now know it was not common during the time of Queen Elizabeth I in England.
Among upper classes, marriages were still arranged between people of similar levels of wealth and social status.
When a suitable husband was found, the woman’s father paid the groom’s family a dowry in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Young people often didn’t meet their future spouses until after the marriage had already been arranged, and they were sometimes betrothed and married at very young ages.
The concept of chivalry, or romantic ideals, arrived later in the Middle Ages with knights (some possibly on white horses) and troubadours (traveling poets/musicians) who tried to win their women’s hearts through brave deeds, poetry, and singing beneath balconies (the story of Romeo and Juliet is set in 15-century Italy).
A man courted a woman by putting her wants and desires first.
The emphasis was on passion and romance; we still talk about a man being chivalrous when he holds open a door for a woman or helps her into a car (or onto a horse).
A play of power, Othello reflects such characteristics through a verisimilitude of circumstances, specifically seen in the wooing of Desdemona, the marriage bed of Othello and Desdemona, and the loss of women's power in the play.