preview

Racism in William Shakespeare's Othello Essay

Good Essays
Racism in William Shakespeare's Othello

The play, Othello, is certainly, in part, the tragedy of racism. Examples of racism are common throughout the dialog. This racism is directed toward Othello, a brave soldier from Africa and currently supreme commander of the Venetian army. Nearly every character uses a racial slur to insult Othello at one point in the play. Even Emilia sinks to the level of insulting Othello based on the color of his skin. The character that most commonly makes racist remarks in Othello is Iago. It is very apparent that Iago uses racism as a scapegoat to hate and blame Othello. Societal racism takes its toll on its victims. The effect of racism on Othello is quite evident and is one of the main causes for
…show more content…
He turns against his friend, Othello, and labels him as a lesser person because of his race. Iago's easy provocation of an important Venetian senator by using Othello's racial characteristics shows how prevalent racism is in the play.

Roderigo also plays a part in the stereotyping of Othello. He is extremely upset that Desdemona has eloped with Othello, because he has been attempting to court her for several months with no avail. Roderigo, like many other characters, then bad-mouths Othello with racial slurs in order to paint a picture of Othello being a lesser person than himself. Roderigo, with great delight, says, "what a full fortune does the thick-lips owe," (1, 1, 72-73) in order to scapegoat him.

Emilia, when she discovers what Othello has done to Desdemona, also reverts back to racial stereotyping. Rather than simply being enraged and distraught, and perhaps criticizing his actions, she roars at him, "O, the more angel she, and you the blacker devil!" (5, 2, 161) This sudden cry from Emilia who seemed previously indifferent to Othello's race perhaps betrays some of the deep-rooted stereotypes that existed in
Get Access