William Shakespeare 's Othello : Race And Performance

Decent Essays


Ilari Pass

ENGL 400 Seminar: Literature and Ethics


7 November 2014

Barbary Horse: Race and Performance in Othello
Ethics never went out of fashion in philosophy. It did, however, in literary studies. In Critical Terms for Literary Study, Geoffrey Galt Harpham asks, ?What is ethics? The answers to this simple inquiry are complexity itself, for they take us straight to the decentered center of ethics, its concern for ?the other?? (394). According to Harpham, ?Ethics does not solve problems, it structures them? (404). Ethics, he argues further, helps humans to articulate and negotiate questions of moral law and the human other. Shakespeare?s Othello serves as a brilliant example of how literature explores such questions. The essays and texts that will be discussed here can help readers articulate and negotiate those questions?both in Othello and in the world. The characters in Shakespeare?s play use language to ?other? Othello. Examining that language?and interrogating the way black actors playing Othello have been treated?helps a reader to consider the ethical dilemma of race and language.

In an essay titled ?Shakespeare?s Othello: Sinned Against or Sinning?? Anthony Bisti writes, ?William Shakespeare was responsible for creating some of the most time-honored characters in all of literature,? including Othello (Bisti 1). Bisti explains further that Shakespeare?s characters have had a profound effect on us as readers, leaving

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