At the end of the 16th century people burned cats for sport, hunted witches, and the leach was the pinnacle of medical technology. However, they did get one thing right. 16th century englishmen had views on interracial marriage that were arguably more sophisticated than those of the American South until as recently as 2009. Shakespeare's Othello illustrates this with how the Venetians treat the protagonist, Othello. He is treated as not only equal but in many cases superior and senior. Racism in Othello is remarkable, because of its absence, yet we find it challenging to hear shakespeare's words without projecting our experience of racism onto them.
The fear of interracial marriage in Venetian society is used by Iago in an attempt to alienate Othello. Othello himself acknowledges the fact that interracial marriage is frowned upon and that racism still applies to him despite his position. A common attitude in Venetian society is that black men and women are inhuman and animalistic in nature; Iago capitalizes on this idea in order to aid his plan of antagonizing Othello. Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, is a prime example of the attitude of Venetian society as a whole, in the sense that he “loved” Othello as long as he remained a servant of Venice and would rather Othello not intermingle amongst the Venetian society. Initially Brabantio “oft invited [Othello]” to his home and “queston’d [him] the story of [his] life”, showing an admiration and sincere interest for Othello’s
Whether this is what Shakespeare intended, the text is filled with racist commentary, stereotypes, and implications that anything other than the norm, in this case, blackness, is bad and disruptive to the status quo. Othello’s race and complexion clearly set
Haply, for I am black/ And have not those soft parts of conversation/ That chamberers have, or for I am declin’d/ Into the vale of years (yet that’s not much) She’s gone. I am abus’d: and my relief/ Must be to loathe her” (III.III. 304-309). As the emanation of social interaction among various races appear within English literature, the vault of new beginnings and change takes hold. William Shakespeare’s Othello, is most notably recognized for the character, Othello. Through various texts of literature, the idea of racial construct and discrimination was never an easy topic to come by. Since the play was written in Europe during the 1600s, the emergence of slave trades in this area further divided races. The play itself follows the tragedy for Othello, and the transition from a military general to a tragic hero. The limitation of power plays a huge role in Othello’s ability to withstand the manipulation of multiple characters. Although he is Moorish general in the Venetian army, he is still indeed a Moor, a socially lower class, muslim man. From this, cultural collision of ethnicity influences how Othello is treated and the disadvantages he faces because of his color. Through the mere jealousy in which Iago, Othello’s standard-bearer, has for Othello’s life, he proposes the idea to manipulate his life by using the one difference between all men, race. When Iago awakes Brabantio, the father of Desdemona, he hopes to initiate his plan to take down Othello. His description
Roderigo also shows racism throughout the play although it is due more to a combination of Iago’s manipulations and his love of Desdemona than his natural feelings. Iago shows racism all throughout the play
Racism is a theme that is prominently evident throughout Shakespeare's Othello. Through this theme, there are several perceptions of an individual's race which are exhibited to establish the
Therefore, even before Othello is physically presented to the audience, the Elizabethan audience would already have an image of Othello being wild and “moorish” since they would have the similar notion as Iago and Rodrigo towards black men. Therefore, Shakespeare establishes the racist concepts from the very beginning of the play to set the base for the tragic downfall of Othello. Racist language is not only limited to the beginning of the play; it is constant throughut the play. Iago uses racist words when he wakes up Brabantio to inform him about Desdemona’s marriage. Iago says an “old black ram” is “tupping” Brabnatio’s “white ewe” which is highly racist and reveals the Elizabethan society’s prejudice against black men. The Elizabethan era believed that black men have animal-like and sexual nature and Iago uses this notion to make Brabantio fear about the mixed marriage and persuade him to stand against Othello. Also, Iago makes use of the racist Elizabethan notion that the colour black meant evilness by calling Othello as “the devil”. This is ironical because in the play, Iago is the one who is playing the role of “the devil” whereas Othello just the biggest victim who is manipulated by Iago. The irony adds on as Iago, white man, is the most evil one in the play where normally according to Elizabethan racist notion, black men are the one who should be the
Othello or The Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare is a tragedy of race. Shakespeare creates a hero who does not fall under a racist stereotype, Othello is a nobleman, a decorated soldier, very well respected by his men (with the exception of Iago). One of the few characteristics that harms, rather than helps him, is that he is dark-skinned in a society utterly dominated by men prejudiced against those with dark skin. At the start of the play, he appears confident that, "My parts, my title, and my perfect soul / Shall manifest me rightly." (Shakespeare, 1, 2, 36-37) But Iago makes sure to use Othello's race against him as much as possible. As a brave soldier from Africa and recently instated supreme commander of the Venetian army, Shakespeare still allows Othello to succumb to the subtle racism that surrounds him. Most of it comes forward through the dialog, and is directed toward Othello. Shakespeare makes no effort to hide this colorful language, nearly every character uses a racial slur to insult Othello at some point in the play. Even Emilia, who doesn’t trust her own husband, sinks to the level of insulting Othello based on the color of his skin. Though the main character to make racist remarks in Othello is Iago, making him a representation of white supremacy. The effect of racism on Othello is quite evident and is one of the main causes of his insecurity about his marriage. These black stereotypes show up in the play and lead to the problem with trying to produce
Thesis: The sole character with dark skin, Othello, is isolated by casual discrimination that indicates underlying racism in not only Othello’s society, but also Shakespeare’s.
To begin, Iago’s encouragement of prejudice leads to Othello’s manifestation of darkness. For instance, when Iago unveils to Rodrigo that he has a plan to attain Desdemona’s affection for him, he in contrast dehumanizes Othello he reveals that “If I the Moor I would not be Iago. In following him I follow but myself; Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, but seeming so for my peculiar end. For when my outward action doth demonstrate” (I.i.57–65). This illustrates, Iago’s true nature that he holds prejudice and hatred for Othello by referring to him as a Moor, it proves that he only views him as substandard. Iago will pretend to serve him, but in reality he is only loyal to himself. This foreshadows that Iago will use negative connotations of race to manipulate Othello into thinking he is worthless. Thus, planting in Othello’s mind thoughts of adultery and hypocrisy. Later, resulting in the uprising of jealousy and darkness of Othello’s character. So Rodrigo, can obtain Desdemona’s love. Promotion of racial bias is also, evident when Iago tries to insinuate that Desdemona is unfaithful. He argues that “not to affect many proposed matches of her own clime, complexion, and degree, Where to we see in all things nature tends—Foh! One may smell in such a will most rank, Foul disproportions,
He turns against his friend, Othello, and labels him as a lesser person because of his race. Iago's easy provocation of an important Venetian senator by using Othello's racial characteristics shows how prevalent racism is in the play.
When Iago makes a point of including Othello’s race in a conversation with a confidant, it proves that he feels that Othello’s race is the reason for his actions. There is an obvious abhorrence for Othello based upon his race. Later in the play, Iago goes on to say “If she had been blessed, she would never have loved the Moor” (Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum “WRAC” ). This statement shows that Iago is jealous of Othello because he won the love of Desdemona and is cause for insecurities on his part. Iago must now question his marriage and whether or not Othello is cause for infidelity. These insecurities act as extra motivation for Iago’s actions.
Racism seems to be a big concern in Shakespeare’s tragic play, Othello. Because the hero of the play is an outsider, a Moor, we have an idea how blacks were regarded in England, in Elizabethan times. There are many references that bring about the issue of racism from the very beginning to the end. In the tragedy, where Othello is coming from is not mentioned, yet through the descriptions the reader is informed that he belongs to one of the Eastern nationalities such as African, Ottoman Turk or Arab. In this paper I am going to analyze some episodes involving a prejudicial, racist attitude and try to discuss whether Shakespeare was a racist or not. Even though the play is full of offensive definitions of black
“Othello” is a tragic play of jealousy, racism and struggle for power. Right from the beginning, Shakespeare has created vigorous dialogue and conflicting situations. There is a direct contrast between black and white in this play, with black meaning something negative and evil and white meaning pure and fairness. The clash between these two colours leads to severe hatred and enmity between a few people.
It then hit me that through Iago’s judgments Othello is “the Moor” and should therefore exemplify the common idea of a moor, which is not admiration, self-worth, and fortune; it is one of disconnectedness and dependency. When he says that “nothing can or shall content his soul/ Till he is evened with the Moor, wife for wife” (Act 2: Scene), he means that he is satisfied until Othello’s life is made equal with his involving feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, which are all qualities fitting to a “moor”. Throughout the play Iago repetitively uses derogatory remarks when speaking of Othello so to encourage certain people in the play to endure racism and confirm that it was the norm. Even so, some of Iago’s semantics reveal his own prejudices. For example, Iago only refers to Othello as a “Moor” with the exception of when he refers to Othello as the “black Othello” (Act 2: Scene 3). Iago hates Othello because he is “the Moor” yet does not symbolize the expected role of what is thought of to be a black man in these times. There is neither reason nor logic behind his hatred, but discrimination against one seldom has reason, for it is characteristically irrational thinking. Iago is a clear illustration of what racism is and will justify his irrational thoughts with anything, just as Iago contributes to Brabantio and Rodrigo’s reasoning behind their actions and Othello’s reasons for acting out on