Othello is a loyal, honest, brave hero, and he won Desdemona’s love with his own performance and the legendary hero life; however, his low self-esteem causes his doubt for himself about his black skin, age, and manhood, his rudeness, reckless, paranoid personality seized him and
The issue of race is one filled with controversy and passion, even today in the twenty-first centaury. In today’s day and age it is more shuttle and underground then it was in its most recent ‘hay-day’. In our time today we see it as more of a shameful, offensive and intolerant thing, but it was the norm in the early 15th and 16th century. Today those people that are outwardly racist are seen as outcasts. In this essay I will tempt to show how even though it was the norm in Victorian England, Shakespeare already had another mind set, and was trying in this creative way that the mind set of the people was not correct even for that time. How and why did Shakespeare purposely portray Othello the Moor as a tragic hero, like Hamlet or King
• Using grotesque animal imagery, Iago voices an explicitly stereotypical view of Othello, as a “Barbary horse,” depicting him as an animalistic outsider. Through the image of conflict in black and white, Iago emphasises on the racial demarcation between Othello and Desdemona, that “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe,” associating Othello with uncontrolled animalistic sexuality. Iago’s overt and vicious racism becomes representative of the reigning stereotype of the African on 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
Although Othello is set in Venice and Cyprus, the attitudes and values shared in the text are probably reflective of the attitudes and values of Shakespeare's own society. It is difficult to assess the attitudes and values of people in sixteenth-century Britain to the relatively few blacks living amongst them. We are given an insight into those attitudes and values through the representation of race and
Shakespeare’s Othello is a play consistently based on jealously and the way it can destroy lives. One is quick to think this jealously is based on Othello’s lack of belief in Desdemona’s faithfulness to him or his suspensions over Desdemona’s affair with Cassio, Othello’s honorable lieutenant. Upon closer inspection of the jealously that exists throughout the play it becomes clear that his jealously is not the sole start and reason for all of the destruction that occurs. Iago, a good friend of Othello, is not who he appears to be. Iago’s own jealously of those around him pushes him over the edge. He begins to deceive all those who believe he is a true, honorable, and faithful man. Throughout Othello, Iago incites his own jealously in
Othello by William Shakespeare raises the issue of how rampant beliefs and attitudes in a society can cause a person to question their sense of self. In a society where racial equality is near non-existent, Othello, a black skinned foreigner in the Venetian society, is constantly reminded of his status as an outsider. Othello, however, is not depicted in a stereotypical manner and despite occupying a highly respected position he is often confronted with blatant racism throughout the play. The prevailing attitudes and beliefs of Venetian society towards Othello are exploited by Iago in order to manipulate Othello’s self confidence and emotional state.
“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.
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
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.”
Only by considering a range of perspectives can we truly appreciate the world of Shakespeare’s Othello. It is through my exploration of these perspectives and their relationship with changing morals and values that has enriched my understanding of the play. One such reading of the play challenges the marginalisation and objectification of woman in a patriarchal Venetian society, while taking into account the changing role of women in modern society. Another interpretation of Othello examines its post colonial elements through the protagonist Othello, and his insecurities of being a black man in a white society. My interpretation of the play as a portrayal of the values existing in Shakespeare’s time is filtered through these
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 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.
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
Along with critics making references to Othello’s race, many characters in the play do as well. The characters that are most racist refer to Othello by his real name less than the people who are least racist. “Othello’s blackness is not only a mark of his physical alienation but a symbol, to which every character in the play himself included must respond” (Berry, 1990). Othello does not refer to himself as African but rather as an exotic Venetian. Other characters do not see Othello as that. Many characters call Othello numerous names other than his real one. “For Iago Othello is an old black ram, the devil, and a barbary horse” (Berry, 1990). Many see Othello’s blackness as a symbol of ugliness, bestiality, treachery, and demonic. None of those words describe how Othello really is. Those words are the stereotypical definition of what a black man is. This stereotypical definition puts Othello is a predicament and makes his acceptance in the Venetian society difficult. “Once such critics conclude that Othello is not a stereotype, he tends to lose his individuality as a Moor and to become a representative of humanity” (Berry, 1990). The stereotypical image of a black man plays an important role in the play’s ending.