The play, Othello, is certainly, in part, the tragedy of racism. Examples of racism are common throughout the dialog. This racism is directed toward Othello, a brave soldier from Africa and currently supreme commander of the Venetian army. Nearly every character uses a racial slur to insult Othello at one point in the play. Even Emilia sinks to the level of insulting Othello based on the color of his skin. The character that most commonly makes racist remarks in Othello is Iago. It is very apparent that Iago uses racism as a scapegoat to hate and blame Othello. Societal racism takes its toll on its victims. The effect of racism on Othello is quite evident and is one of the main causes for
Throughout time, writing has evolved such that gender, race and creed have taken on a more pivotal role in fiction. Some people argue that race in William Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Othello,” is hardly an issue. However, to many people, race is everything in “Othello. The challenges that Othello, the lead character, faces are directly attributed to his “Moor” complexion and if he were of a different nationality, the outcome of his situation would have been drastically different. These claims are supported by the articles of “Othello’s Alienation” by Edward Berry and “Race Mattered: Othello in Late Eighteenth-Century England” by Virginia Mason Vaughan that argue that race is a major element in “Othello.”
Othello’s race does not prominently impact his demise, although Shakespeare touches upon the issue of race, the reason for Othello’s demise lies somewhere else. However, the allegations of race directly lead to its tragic ending. Feelings of inadequacy and distrust without question aid in the tragedy. The fact that Othello’s skin color is important alters the interpretation of the tragedy within the play. The racism represented in Othello is not just about an instance of prejudices and prejudgments made by a crowd of people against another, but in fact has much more subtle and devastating consequences, specifically, that it is proliferated not only by the discriminatory section of society, but also by the target of this discrimination.
Othello is one of the Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy which illustrates a tragic downfall of a black protagonist, Othello. Although in the play, Othello is a socially secured man working as a military general, his social status seems to be cancelled out by his colour. In the society of Venice, Othello is referred to as an outsider not only because of his cultural difference but also his colour, Therefore, in the play, Othello is depicted as a victim of racism even though he himself does not seem to acknowledge that he is victimised because of racism.
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
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
Othello, from the onset, is shown to us a play of love and jealousy. There is however more to this play than just love and jealousy; there is underlying racism, hate, deception, pride, and even sexism between these pages. Othello is a transcendent play, one that will survive the perils of time simply because it is still relevant. Even today, over 400 years later, there are still issues of racism and sexism. Hate is as natural as love in humans and Othello gets right to the root of that. We witness this from the very first scene, “…you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse/ you’ll have your nephews neigh to you” (I.i.112-14); to the very last, “Moor she was chaste. She loved thee, cruel Moor” (V.ii.258). Moor however is
The protagonist of the play, Othello, becomes the monster driven by racial prejudice that Venetians depict him to be. The word “moor’ is an indicator of the divide between Othello, a Morrocan with darker skin, and the Venetians of Italy, with fair skin. Even those who respect Othello use the word “moor” to replace his name. By the end of the play, he becomes the cruel character Iago wanted him to be.
• A fear of foreigners during Elizabethan times fostered misogynistic and racist values, which is evident in the way Othello’s blackness becomes a symbol of alienation to which all characters in the play must respond.
Prejudice is an act of dehumanization. Throughout the Shakespearean play The Tragedy of Othello the theme of prejudice dominates the society in which the characters are restrained to. For the duration of the play the character Othello encounters various verbal slanders of racism and slurs leading to his spiral and demise. To the extent in which it contributes to him murdering his wife out of jealousy and, later, executing himself. The discrimination present in the play casts an influence on his character, consequently leading to pivotal downfalls. The act of prejudice is evident through Iago’s promotion of racial bias, the prevalence of racial attitudes, and the exemplification of Othello as an outcast in their society. Thus, the story becoming a tragedy for the existence of racial bias. Allocating that the influence of prejudice can obstruct one’s mindset, ultimately leading to the disintegration of one’s character.
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
In the play “Othello” by William Shakespeare, Iago uses language that includes animalism and racism to manipulate Brabantio’s perception of Othello.
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.
Racism is a glaring problem amongst the characters of the play. Othello is clearly affected by it and feels that he must prove himself equal to everyone else. Iago cleverly feeds Othello’s insecurity by constantly reminding him that he is racially distinct. He points out the obvious differences between Othello and Desdemona. He tells Othello that Desdemona will eventually regret that she hasn’t chosen someone of her own ethnicity and will desire someone,
Shakespeare was a literary pioneer and was able to inspire conversations about race in a predominantly white European society while living in England through his play Othello which is unique in the sense that it features a non-white hero as the protagonist. Although race is not at the center of Othello, it plays a pivotal role in deciding the course of the play and explains the actions and motives of the characters.