Othello Research Paper

1226 Words5 Pages
Carly Niedert
Dr. Helen Davis
English 120
1 December 2011

In the play Othello written by Shakespeare, the issue of racism is addressed. Othello, the protagonist of the play, is African American or black. “According to Lois Whitney, many of Othello’s specific attributes probably derive from Shakespeare’s reading of Leo Africanus, whose Geographical Historie of Africa which was translated and published in London in 1600”(Berry, 1990). Many critics have different views on this. “If Shakespeare depended upon Leo Africanus for such details, he must have been much more interested in racial psychology than critics such as Bradley or Heilman suggest”(Berry, 1990). One of the most prominent features of this Shakespeare play is the
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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. Since this play is a tragedy and Othello is a tragic hero, his blackness does play a role in that. A tragic hero is the protagonist in a tragedy. This play is a tragedy considering

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