Power, Race and Women in Othello by Shakespear and Sax

1443 Words Mar 21st, 2011 6 Pages


• 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.

• 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
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However, similar to the play, John indirectly refers Dessie to “other men’s leavings” which suggests the subordinate position of women, objectified as a part of male honour.

• Sax explores parallelism between Desdemona, who is anxious to present herself as a “vessel”, and Dessie who depicts herself as chaste, “I was like a blank sheet waiting for you to write your name on me”. This reflects the expectation of women of the contemporary context, untainted and pure, like a “blank sheet”, which significantly displays tendencies that resemble Elizabethan female attributes.

• Sax directly contrasts Lulu’s silence to Emilia’s strength. “Tis proper I obey him but not now”, declares Emilia, who defies her husband’s authority and social conventions.

• Both texts depict patriarchal societies, Shakespeare makes a powerful statement regarding the role of women in the 16th century and their potential strength, whereas Sax portrays women as ironically weaker in the democratic modern society

Power: Both texts examine the corrupting and unstable influence of power.


• Shakespeare’s idea of the tenuous and transitory nature of power is shaped by a context where the nation was anxious due to the unexpected death of Elizabeth.

• It is the notion of the corruptive nature of power which Shakespeare draws on

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