Race and Loyalty in Othello Essay

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Race and Loyalty in Othello

William Shakespeare`s Othello is centralized around the conflicts that are, for the most part, tied in with racial issues and questions of loyalty. These conflicts stem from the society that encompass the couple, as well as from the couple themselves. Indeed the couple are entrenched in different social strata, class and ethnicity. The female protagonist is the daughter of a highly-respected Venetian senator: Brabantio. Othello--also known as the Moor--is a foreigner, black in color, has a past filled with tragic and exotic tales and has proved himself worthy of the title General in the Venetian army.

Even before we, as an audience, have had a chance to meet Othello and Desdemona we learn that the …show more content…

The phrase "look to her" suggests several things: that Desdemona needs to be watched closely, in other words; she cannot be trusted, or that Othello should notice what a deceiver looks like and lastly, if Othello looks at her he may find that she is not as fair as he thought--the opposite of fair being black.

It can be perhaps argued that Desdemona has actively sought to alienate herself from the other Venetians by marrying him. Othello, on the other hand, seems to be more than anxious to conform to Venetian ideals. By adding "Moor" rather than a name or his position Brabantio emphasizes Othello`s difference, solely based on the colour of his skin. Brabantio continues this by dehumanizing Othello, by taking away his name, his individuality and in so doing makes Othello acutely aware of his difference as well as well as making him believe that notion that he is a barbarian.

When he says "if thou hast eyes to see" he is attempting to allude to the idea that in order to see what Brabantio sees i.e. Desdemona`s marriage as a betrayal he must see the whole situation through Venetian point of view. However it could also be attempting to reflect Brabantio`s assumption that only if he is totally blinded by love he will fail to see what Desdemona really is. The rhyming couplet also serves as attempting to reiterate the aforementioned.

"My life upon her faith" (I.iii.295)

The above is Othello`s reassuring

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