The Effects of Racism and Misogyny in Othello Essay example

876 Words Mar 12th, 2014 4 Pages
The Effects of Racism and Misogyny in Othello Race and gender heavily influence the course of peoples’ lives. Shakespeare’s “Othello” depicts a society in which racist and misogynist behaviour informs and affects how characters are perceived and treated. Women in the play are viewed by men as objects, available for their possession and use. The constant subtle and overt racism that Othello encounters throughout the play contribute to his downfall. The unjust treatment of women and people of colour in “Othello” is proof that their society is one of racism and misogyny. Male characters in the play perceive women as objects to possess and use as they see fit. Unwed women were considered the property of their fathers until marriage, and …show more content…
This becomes indisputable when Emilia says, “’They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;/ they eat us hungrily, and when they are full,/ they belch us.’” (3.4.98-103). Emilia remarks on the way men use women with a lack of reverence, treating them as food to consume when they want and to throw away when they are finished. This statement is an accurate metaphor for Bianca and Cassio’s relationship, but also for that of Emilia and her verbally abusive husband, Iago. Every female character in Othello faces disrespect, mistreatment and misogyny from the men in their lives. Racism is prevalent and poignant in Venetian society. Iago uses racist language to amplify the anger in Brabantio when he reports on Desdemona’s marriage to Othello. Iago shouts, “‘Even now, now, very now, an old black ram/ is tupping your white ewe.’”(1.1.89-90). Iago uses racial slurs to his advantage, by calling Othello “an old black ram” he is referring to the Elizabethan-period belief that black men were animalistic sexually, and he is trying to anger Brabantio with the imagery of his daughter sleeping with an older black man. Brabantio’s racism is the dominant reason for his reaction to Desdemona and Othello’s marriage. This is evident when he claims, “‘She, in spite of nature,/ of years, of country, credit, every thing,/ to fall in love with what she fear’d to look on?’”(1.3.96-98). In this quote, Brabantio is trying to explain that the idea of

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