Othello, Race, and the Effect on Character Essay

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With the influx of trade during the Elizabethan Era, English society encountered an increase of descriptions and encounters with people from remote countries, including Africa. With these happenstances, brought misunderstandings of people and cultures, therefore race and discriminations began to form. Shakespeare’s protagonist in Othello, a Moor, was affected by societal standards in his ability to develop as an individual because of physical characteristics and internal insecurities because of the conflict, which tears him between two cultures. In the mid-sixteenth century, England began encountering Native West Africans. Their appearance in London began as early as 1554 and by 1601, which led Elizabeth I to convey her displeasure …show more content…
Pory’s translation depicts Leo as a noble Moor, seasoned traveler, Christian convert, and former slave. Othello’s ethnicity becomes fundamental because of how he is personified, by both others and himself (Berry 315-318).
The opening scene of Othello begins not with the title character, but with Iago and Rodrigo’s derogatory remarks about Othello. Iago compares the Moor to “an old black ram” (1.1.89), a Barbary horse” (1.1.112), and refers to the consummation of his marriage to Desdemona as “making the beast with two backs” (1.1.117-118). Rodrigo refers to the relationship between Othello and Desdemona as a “gross revolt” (1.1.135) and about her being in “the gross clasp of the lascivious Moor” (1.1.127). Before Othello even appears, he is denoted as dreadful, deceitful, lustful, and inhuman, qualities, which he will reflect on himself and his counterparts, Iago and Desdemona. Brabantio shares in the racial sentiment of Iago and Rodrigo when he learns of his daughter’s marriage to the Moor. Othello’s misunderstood culture brings Brabantio to the conclusion that a “foul thief” (1.2.62) must have stolen his daughter by the use of witchcraft. Brabantio

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