At the end of the 16th century people burned cats for sport, hunted witches, and the leach was the pinnacle of medical technology. However, they did get one thing right. 16th century englishmen had views on interracial marriage that were arguably more sophisticated than those of the American South until as recently as 2009. Shakespeare's Othello illustrates this with how the Venetians treat the protagonist, Othello. He is treated as not only equal but in many cases superior and senior. Racism in Othello is remarkable, because of its absence, yet we find it challenging to hear shakespeare's words without projecting our experience of racism onto them.
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
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.”
The infectious discrimination of Elizabethan racists is derived from fear unnatural a racist’s hate plagues a vulnerable community of black slaves, with religion and war corrupting diverse cultures in the attempts to purify the existence of sin. This enlightening argument of what inspires William Shakespeare’s to compose the play Othello contaminates romantic relationships,
Othello’s race does not prominently impact his demise, although Shakespeare touches upon the issue of race, the reason for Othello’s demise lies somewhere else. However, the allegations of race directly lead to its tragic ending. Feelings of inadequacy and distrust without question aid in the tragedy. The fact that Othello’s skin color is important alters the interpretation of the tragedy within the play. The racism represented in Othello is not just about an instance of prejudices and prejudgments made by a crowd of people against another, but in fact has much more subtle and devastating consequences, specifically, that it is proliferated not only by the discriminatory section of society, but also by the target of this discrimination.
Iago plays on Othello’s own insecurity about his race to trigger jealousy; an example of this would be his observation on lines 227 and 228, where he insinuates that Desdemona may be better suited to somebody “of her own clime, complexion and degree”. This follows a quote from Othello, stating that his relationship is ‘nature erring from itself’, allowing the audience to see his own uncertainty about his ethnic background, which Iago then develops and twists to suit his needs. Iago’s quote implies that Desdemona would be better matched with a man of similar race, such as Cassio, rather than Othello, which is designed to spark jealousy within Othello, and is shown to have a profound effect on him towards the end of the scene, with his aside to the audience “Why did I marry”.
Three sources analyze the racial conflicts of white actors playing colored parts, and all agreed that it was not a trivial situation, for audiences, or actors. Racial tensions are very popular with the media. While there is some minor tension today, the movies and plays of Othello top the charts for most racial conflicts. First, The article, “Othello: the role that entices and engages actors of all skin colours,” by Andrew Dickson shows the history of the actors that played Othello, and when the actors were black, they were either not cast, due to segregationists, or were criticized in their performance for the same reason. Also, this article uses diction to convey the seriousness of white vs. minority crisis. Next, the video, “SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED White Actors Playing Othello” by PBS, shows the performances of many Othello actors that were white. Additionally, the video shows one white actor who used makeup to make himself more than than black. The video uses hyperbole to describe the absurdity of Othello movies. For example, Laurence Olivier, the 1964 Othello was black-top showing how far film industries will go to cover-up racial tensions, and the narrator describes the makeup as ridiculous,and dramatic. Finally, the last article, “Aladdin: putting a white character in Disney’s live-action remake is offensive,” by Hannah Flint displays that film industries feel obligated to please a white audience, keeping the minorities second fiddle by adding characters white people
Othello, from the onset, is shown to us a play of love and jealousy. There is however more to this play than just love and jealousy; there is underlying racism, hate, deception, pride, and even sexism between these pages. Othello is a transcendent play, one that will survive the perils of time simply because it is still relevant. Even today, over 400 years later, there are still issues of racism and sexism. Hate is as natural as love in humans and Othello gets right to the root of that. We witness this from the very first scene, “…you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse/ you’ll have your nephews neigh to you” (I.i.112-14); to the very last, “Moor she was chaste. She loved thee, cruel Moor” (V.ii.258). Moor however is
The protagonist of the play, Othello, becomes the monster driven by racial prejudice that Venetians depict him to be. The word “moor’ is an indicator of the divide between Othello, a Morrocan with darker skin, and the Venetians of Italy, with fair skin. Even those who respect Othello use the word “moor” to replace his name. By the end of the play, he becomes the cruel character Iago wanted him to be.
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 still accessible to today’s society as it focuses on issues like racism.People continue to judge others by the color of their skin. In this country alone the recent rise of nationalism brought back the problem of racism as strong as it was during the civil rights movement. What is even more ridiculous is that these conflicts have perdurated from thousands of years ago.
Many characters show racism towards the character Othello. Iago seems to show racism towards Babanito when he calls him "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe". Also Desdemona says, I prithee call him black" (Othello 1293). Emilia calls Othello a "blacker devil" when she finds out that he has killed Desdemona. It seems to be that most of the racist comments during the play are starting to be fueled by the anger in the characters. For example Iago tends to be racist towards Othello for giving Cassio the job of being a Lt. Or when Barbantios gets mad at Othello based on the marriage between himself and Desdemona. If you look deep into the play Othello seems to be living up to the so called racial stereotypes.
One of the major issues in Shakespeare's Othello is the impact of the race of the main character, Othello. His skin color is non-white, usually portrayed as African although some productions portray him as an Arabian. Othello is referred to by his name only seventeen times in the play. He is referred to as "The Moor" fifty-eight times. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) states that a Moor is "Any individual of the swarthy races of Africa or Asia which have adopted the Mohammedan religion. In Spanish history the terms Moo, Saracens, and Arabs are synonymous." This indicates that Othello is constantly being degraded and set up as an evil person throughout the play. What this really means is that
The story Othello, takes place in Venice Italy. A black man named Othello becomes the new general in town. Not many are fond of this idea, due to an outsider in such a powerful position. The plot shows that Othello is the only person of color that signifies that the vast majority were Caucasian. Due to Othello’s color difference many racist remarks are thrown towards his direction.
Othello by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy piece that discusses nobility, purity and jealousy. The story follows a jealous general, Iago, that attempts to ruin the reputation of the main character, Othello, by tainting his relationship with his wife. Iago uses Othello’s race against him as he attempts to gain higher favor.