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Othello Racism Essay
Racism In Othello
Othello Shakespeare has written many classic play writes that in time people fall in love with is literature repeatedly. Othello, is one of the many classics that he wrote and perhaps may be one of the most controversial play writes that involve racism, betrayal, and love. The story goes in depth about interracial relationships and the status of a black man in a white privileged societies’ uprising. Othello’s first man in command, Iago and other citizens in the Venice spout racial slurs throughout
European society while living in England through his play Othello which is unique in the sense that it features a non-white hero as the protagonist. Although race is not at the center of Othello, it plays a pivotal role in deciding the course of the play and explains the actions and motives of the characters. Shakespeare’s culture consisted of a homogenous pool of residents who all very likely looked like one another, so seeing someone like Othello, whose appearance is quite different from theirs, was
Racism And Racism In Othello
of Shakespeare’s play “Othello” is the numerous references to Othello’s race, not only by Iago, but by other characters as well. Othello is one of the first black heroes in English literature. He is a general, he advanced to a position of power and influence regardless of his race and his status as a foreigner in Venice. Despite Othello's role in the army as a distinguished soldier and leader, he is nonetheless a victim of racism from the very beginning of the play. The racism focuses on his marriage
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
Shakespeare’s Othello: an intense tragedy of an admired military general, who is driven to kill his wife and himself out of jealously. Othello is of Black African descent, which separates him from many in his Venetian world. Throughout the play, Othello’s race is seen as a negative aspect of his character, which is used by the antagonist, Iago, as a weak point to initiate chaos. The play depicts racism and uses the influence of radicalized perspective to create a tragedy. Shakespeare created Othello to be
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. Shakespeare's Othello is remarkably tolerant of racial differences that would soon come to shame the western world. Othello, “the moor” is held in high esteem
Examples Of Racism In Othello
In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, Examples of racism are visible throughout the story. That racism is geared toward Othello who is a Moor from Africa and general of the Venetian army. The character of Othello is a nobleman and a very respectable general in the army but, nonetheless, there are three crucial structural elements of Shakespeare’s play are Othello’s blackness, his marriage to the white Desdemona, and his killing of her. Throughout the play, Othello struggles with personal conflicts
Racism In Othello Essay
The role of racism is evident throughout Othello, however, in this drama it is clear that other issues collide with the aspect of racism. The position of love, lust, and hate plays an enormous component in Othello. Right off the bat the reader’s discover that Othello and Desdemona are secretly married. Iago characterizes this love as “unnatural” because no white woman could ever love a black man unless witchcraft was involved. Also, Brabantio praises Othello for being a heroic general, but despises
Racism In Othello Analysis
of Racism in Othello.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 3, Oct. 1993, p. 304. In this article, the author relates the idea of primal scene to racism in “Othello”. Primal scene is a psychoanalysis theory by Sigmund Freud. This theory claims once a child imagines or sees their parents having sexual relations they will be unable to repress this image from reappearing in their mind. The author relates this theory to the play “Othello” by
Racism in Shakespeare's Othello
Racism in Othello 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
In the play Othello, William Shakespeare discusses some conversations that can be rather racist. For example, in Act III Scene III, Othello adds, “Farewell, farewell! If more thou dost perceive, let me know more. Set on thy wife to observe. Leave me, Iago.” Another example is used in Act IV Scene III, Desdemona says, “My mother had a maid called Barbary. She was in love; and he she loved proved mad and did forsake her. She has a song of “Willow”;.”Last example used is in Act V Scene II. “And say
Theme Of Racism In Othello
Throughout history, those who experienced racism were often not given proper representation of their struggles in literature. However, during the Elizabethan period, racism began to be acknowledged in society more frequently. Shakespeare’s play, Othello, shows the struggles of an African general, Othello, as he faces prejudice by an envious soldier, Iago. Shakespeare often focused on the stereotypes in Elizabethan society to depict the character Othello, while giving him a personality that did not
Racism And Desire In Othello
Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy of a Venetian black moor Othello who fails to understand the conspiracy of a white man, Iago who destroys his nuptial life for his mere suspicion that Othello has immoral relationship with his wife Emilia and makes Othello kill his ‘unfaithful’ wife Desdemona. The present article explores the unconscious play of racism and image of black man in the unconscious mind of the white man as Othello is the only black man in the play. Fanonian and Freudian perspectives
Victim Of Racism In Othello
Othello is one of the Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy which illustrates a tragic downfall of a black protagonist, Othello. Although in the play, Othello is a socially secured man working as a military general, his social status seems to be cancelled out by his colour. In the society of Venice, Othello is referred to as an outsider not only because of his cultural difference but also his colour, Therefore, in the play, Othello is depicted as a victim of racism even though he himself does not seem to
Shakespeare’s Othello depicts the downfall of a highly respected war general and explores themes such as jealousy, gender, and deception. The exploration of these themes evinces the racial, cultural, and social climate of Venice. The primary philosophies of the seventeenth century about race are a substantial part of Othello’s doubt and insecurity, which ultimately lead to his tragic demise. The encounter between worlds with differing values and ideas plays a considerable role in the context of Othello. There
Othello Racism Analysis
In William Shakespeare's Othello, racism can be seen as a common thing throughout the dialogues in the play. Almost every single character have made racial slurs towards Othello. The protagonist, Othello is seen as an isolated individual from the rest of Venice due to his skin colour. Othello feels insecure about his race. The antagonist, Iago is able to take advantage of Othello’s insecurities and weak emotions by endlessly convinces him about Desdemona’s infidelity. Racism in his society and Othello’s
Othello: Racism Essay
Othello: Racism Just how serious is the problem of racial prejudice in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello? Is it pervasive or incidental? This essay intends to answer questions on this subject. Blanche Coles in Shakespeare’s Four Giants maintains that the racial discrimination in the play may be overstated by critics: In the first scene, Roderigo has referred to Othello as “thick lips.” No other character in the play attributes any such negroid features to Othello, and it
Racism In Othello Race is a critical component in Othello . It is one of the numerous variables that Othello feels makes him a pariah, somebody who is on the outside of social and political force. There are numerous issues that he needed to encounter. One of them is that he is Black. Iago takes a shot at this by recommending that his being of shading will affect his cooperations with others, including Desdemona. The way that Othello is dark is critical in a few ways since he feels this is a piece
1600s, England went through a time called “Elizabethan Era.” During this time, racism was common. People of color were called “savage.” However, in Othello by William Shakespeare, had issues about race. Throughout the play, we see a difficult relation between Othello, a black man, Desdemona, a white woman and the everyone. They weren’t happy that Desdemona and Othello were together. The crime that was committed by Othello was called a pressure group because he was pressured by Iago words. However,
English II Honors 21 May 2018 Racism Yesterday and Today People discriminate for many different reasons; fear, envy, power, or the need to segregate themselves from others. Racial prejudice is a poisonous fruit of racism, and it turns lives into hell. In Othello, examples of racism are common throughout the dialog. Racism is directed toward Othello, a brave soldier from Africa and supreme commander of the Venetian army. Othello and Desdemona find racism unleashed upon them, in the form of
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A+ Student Essay
Discuss the role that race plays in Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello. How do the other characters react to Othello’s skin color or to the fact that he is a Moor? How does Othello see himself?
Othello incurs resentment for many reasons. He is from a land that Venetians consider exotic and mysterious, he has had unique adventures, and his military accomplishments far exceed those of the men around him. The most visible indicator of his outsider status is also the one that provokes the most poisonous responses: Othello is a Black man in white Venice. Whenever characters such as Iago feel jealousy, fear, or simple hatred toward Othello, they give vent to their feelings by using racist slurs. For much of the play, Othello resists, ignores, or seems indifferent to the racism that dogs him. But eventually he internalizes Iago’s and others’ idea that his Blackness makes him barbarous. This belief, as much as his conviction of Desdemona’s guilt, allows Othello to kill his wife. When he turns the race weapon against himself, he dooms both himself and Desdemona.
Among Iago’s many repulsive qualities, his eagerness to hurl racial epithets is perhaps the most shocking. In an attempt to enlist Brabanzio in his anti-Othello cause, Iago refers to the general as “the Moor,” “the devil,” and “a Barbary horse.” These terms reduce Othello to a crude stereotype, turning him into a villain and an animal. When Iago tells Brabanzio that “an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe,” he demeans a passionate and loving relationship between two intelligent adults by characterizing Othello as a mindless rutting animal who has soiled the pure Desdemona with his lust. Iago hopes to disgust Brabanzio with this animal imagery and with the contrast between Othello’s Blackness and Desdemona’s whiteness.
Like Iago, other Venetians resort to racial slurs to deal with their own feelings of inferiority or powerlessness. Roderigo, on the defensive and trying to present himself and Iago as a unified front, casually refers to Othello as “the thick-lips.” This epithet is both an attempt to undermine Othello’s military achievements with a cheap stereotype as well as a way to pit Roderigo and Iago’s physical similarity against Othello’s unfamiliar appearance. Brabanzio, outraged at his daughter’s elopement, expresses disbelief that Desdemona could shun the curly-haired young men of Venice in favor of Othello’s “sooty bosom.” Brabanzio channels his own insecurity about his daughter’s loyalty to him by expressing sneering disgust about Othello’s race, implying that Othello’s Blackness is a dirty coating that threatens to soil Desdemona’s purity.
While Othello is barraged by racism, he manages to resist its pull for some time. But in Act IV, he crumbles. Othello discusses his race throughout the play—usually in response to something a white Venetian says—but here he makes his first negative reference to it, suggesting that perhaps his Blackness is to blame for his lack of conversational ability. It is a quiet moment, but a hugely significant one. It marks a turning point: Othello has fallen victim to the same racist logic (or illogic) that rules the thinking of people such as Iago and Roderigo. Like those men, Othello wants to place the blame for his feelings of inferiority somewhere and winds up laying that blame not where it belongs (in this case, at Iago’s feet), but on his own skin. The floodgates have opened, and now Othello is in danger of believing all of Iago’s racist nonsense. In the next lines, Othello compares himself to a toad living in a dungeon, as if he has begun to suspect that his Blackness makes him a loathsome animal, somehow less than human.
Only when Othello buys into the absurd idea that his race inherently makes him dangerous does he begin to creep toward the possibility of doing violence to his wife. When he sees himself through society’s eyes, as a barbaric interloper, Othello begins to despise himself, and it is that self-hatred that allows him to kill what he loves most.
Read more about the weaponization of race in Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give .
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Racism in Play “Othello” by William Shakespeare Essay
This essay discusses the play Othello by William Shakespeare. Characters such as Desdemona, Brabantio, and Othello are analyzed in terms of racism and ignorance. Besides, the paper expounds on racism, discrimination, and attitude towards black skin in Europe during the era of this play. In addition, the treatise discusses the irony of Othello’s greatness as a general but being deceived by Iago.
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Across the play, it is clear that the character Othello is often called by other characters funny names depicting racism and discrimination based on his dark skin. For instance, the father of Desdemona; Brabantio cannot stand the imagination of Othello being an item with his daughter. He is seriously enraged on finding out that Othello had been dating his daughter behind his back. Different from the other characters who call Othello racist names behind his back, Brabantio frequently refer to him as a “moor” (Shakespeare 1.2.88) on his face.
This is a racist reference to Othello’s dark skin link to North African Arabs. Often, Brabantio uses terms such as” sooty bosom” (Shakespeare 1.2.89) when talking to Othello who is his subject as the Senator of Venice city. Such comments are meant to make Othello understand the hierarchy ladder of control and authority. In my opinion, despite the visible dislike Brabantio has for Othello, these racist onslaughts are influenced by Iago.
Constantly, Iago dwells on Othello’s race when discussing his relationship with Desdemonia to Brabantio. Iago asserts, “Even now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (Shakespeare 1.1.97).
Skin color being a serious issue in this society, Brabantio cannot believe that his daughter could fall for such a sooty dark-skinned man. He thinks that Othello must have charmed her with a magic spell and witchcraft to have her in his arms. Without Iago’s influence on his views, Brabantio would not be so mean to Othello. Instead, he would practice racism on the fine solder only because of race difference.
In the early 17 th century, in England, race dictated the role allocation in the society. The term moor was symbolically used by the whites to show disapproval for a character of undesirable traits (Julius 20). Despite the spirited writings depicting black people as equal to white people, Shakespeare’s writings were criticized.
It would be unimaginable for a Negro to claim royal birth. Blacks were considered outcast blood that is not worthy to stand in the courts of Venetian. They represented the opposite of ego, pride, cynicism, and amorality. Racist slurs were hurled at them in every slightest opportunity irrespective of the class (Julius 23). Despite Othello’s vast experience in military and holding a coveted post of a general, Brabantio refer to him as a moor (Shakespeare 1.2.88).
Reflectively, this gives an impression of a lesser human being who cannot be granted the same privileges and freedom of choice. Iago incites rejection in Othello’s love life. Since Othello is dark-skinned, the society is against his marriage to the daughter of the senator of Venice. Iago says, “Even now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (Shakespeare 1.1.97).
In role allocation, the white were the masters and blacks their servants. Some roles were reserved for the white supremacy. When in authority, whites were arrogant and insensitive when interacting with the blacks. With every slight opportunity, a white person would exercise authority and superiority. Openly, Brabantio calls Othello a sooty bosom (Shakespeare 1.2.89).
Being amoral being, Iago interestingly use this trait to manipulate his ways throughout the play. He is delighted in his own cunning. Besides, he is adoptive to every situation and can align himself to assume any form a situation might need. In company of any character, he is coarse, bluff, and genial. Moreover, the characters in the play prefer his easy solutions to every problem and he pretend to have best interest on Othello at heart. Though everyone is above him professionally and socially, he interacts without any ego.
For instance, in the fight between Roderigo and Cassio which he instigates, Iago tells Cassio, “I should rather have this tongue cut from my mouth than it should do offence to Michael Cassio. Yet I persuade myself, to speak the truth” (Shakespeare 2.1.80). He later convinces Othello to replace Cassio in the army for gross misconduct. This move is meant to win Othello’s trust and favor and facilitation of his scheme to replace Cassio as a lieutenant.
His goodness to Othello only serves his personal interests .Iago’s pride is of sly vindictiveness. In line 280, of scene 1 in act 2, Iago justify his hate and for Othello and is determined to cunningly revenge for a “twint my sheets…done my office” (Shakespeare 2.1.88). In pretence of loyalty, he vividly plots to break Othello’s marriage by vowing that, “till I am evened with him wife for wife” (Shakespeare 2.1.88).His vengeance insight is declared on Othello for what he presumes as a trodden pride.
In summary, the play Othello is captivating and presents racism as it was. The character Othello is gullible and easily manipulated by Iago who is below his class. Brabantio cannot approve Othello’s marriage to his daughter since he is dark-skinned. Generally, in the times of Shakespeare the blacks were despised as inferior being irrespective of their position in the society.
Shakespeare, W. Othello. Cambridge: Plain Label Books, 1968. Print.
Julius, L. Othello . New York: Turtleback Books, 1998. Print.
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Racism and Race In Othello by Shakespeare: Essay
- Topics: Othello William Shakespeare
- Words: 1519
- This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.
Racism and prejudice, two of the most devastating elements that is engraved into every society and civilization since the beginning of history are a topic of debate and discussion. Racism, a word that looks quite simple on paper, but holds so much more meaning when looking at the whole picture. Racism is something that appears in many shapes and forms directed at those of deemed inferior to those of the opposite race. Although the worlds society has progressed in the last couple of decades, racism still continues to exist as it has in the past. Most literature is inspired by the overall theme of being human and being able to make mistakes but, this does not exclude the theme of racism. The Elizabethan Era was the most obvious time period where the discrimination of race was very evident. The famous Shakespearean play, Othello, is an example of literature that displays the effects of racism. Therefore, Othello is a tragedy that deals with racial conflict rather than other works that deal with the feeling of jealousy that comes from being the opposite race, or the feeling of being outcasted due to being the minority. The play shows racism that places a restrain on love, and also destroys the happiness that one feels when faced with prejudice from fellow peers.
In Othello, the protagonist is a successful, brave soldier from Africa who is also given the title of supreme commander of the Venetian army. Although he is only a Moor, Othello is dedicated to serving his society. When it comes to serving his country, Othello can be seen as a significant and physically powerful figure respected by those around him. However, his deep rooted insecurity of his race makes it difficult to enjoy the sacrament of holy matrimony. Othello is surrounded by the countrymen who do not wish to see the interracial couple that is Othello and Desdemona.
The duration of the play consists of verbalized racism represented by the words ‘Moor’ and ‘Black’, these names are not associated with anyone other than Othello creating this divide and feeling of being an outsider. In the beginning of the play, Othello’s own name is not used when he is introduced, in fact he is instead called ‘thick-lips’ and ‘an old black man’. As the play develops the audience can see Iago’s growing hatred towards Othello’s race. In Iago’s mind a black soldier cannot be as successful as a white soldier, a black man is not worthy or deserving of marrying a white woman. When Iago hears the news of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage he becomes enraged, spitting out racist language in response. In the Elizabethan Era, marrying behind a father’s back was unacceptable, however when it is revealed that Desdemona married a black man, this aggravates the situation further. As Othello ‘steals’ Brabantio’s daughter from him he furiously says to Roderigo, ‘O, that you had had her!’. Brabantio would have been more pleased with a marriage to a man he did not approve of compared to a marriage to a black man.
Due to all of the damage that Othello caused, his reputation of being a good soldier is destroyed. Othello’s fellow soldiers were able to see pass his race in some aspects due to the respect of his kills, however when the truth of the secret marriage is revealed the respect Othello had once had is gone. Othello is angered by the idea of being judged merely by the color of his skin.
It remains clear that Brabantio will never accept the marriage between Desdemona and Othello. In Brabantio’s eyes nothing good can come from the Moor. Othello’s good soldier illusion is shattered due to him being another race. To him, if Othello is black then Desdemona and his love cannot be real and thus is questioned. Brabantio is so blinded by Othello’s skin color that he believes the only way that Desdemona could be in love with Othello is if she is bewitched. From this idea Brabinito proclaims:
O thou thief, where hast thou stow’d my daughter? Damn’d as thou art, thou hast enchanted her; For I’ll refer me to all things of sense, Save your time! We can take care of your essay Proper editing and formatting Free revision, title page, and bibliography Flexible prices and money-back guarantee Place Order If she in chains of magic were not bound, Whether a maid so tender, fair and happy, So opposite to marriage she be shunned.
When Desdemona is given the chance to respond the audience is keyed in on how she truly feels about her husband’s race. Desdemona admits that she is not necessarily impressed by Othello’s appearance but instead is with him more for his mind replying ‘I saw Othello’s visage in his mind’.
When reviewing the play, it is easy to see the root of the conflict was due to the matrimony of Desdemona and Othello. Othello’s greatest fault is marrying the white Desdemona. The fault between the two is not the love and affection that they share, but the fault was not taking the impact of his race into consideration. It is evident for the beginning of the play that Othello is outcasted, however the marriage sparks the flame of racism. Once the marriage is revealed this fuels Iago’s hate fire even more. When the position of lieutenant goes to Othello rather than him he becomes infuriated. This rank shift is the what Iago bases his revenge on. He cannot stand the idea of having someone he see lesser than him being in charge. This sparks jealousy in Iago’s heart and from then on his sole mission is to destroy Othello. At this point, the thing that pushed Iago into setting his plan into motion was Othello’s blackness and now deemed devil image. From these ideals, Iago believes that Othello and Desdemona’s relationship will end quickly, mainly from his doing.
This feeling of jealousy ties in with the film ‘O’, a Shakespeare adaptation filmed by Tim Blake Nelson. In Nelson’s adaptation the character of Iago is portrayed by the character Hugo. Hugo is the son of the basketball coach and during the course of the film the audience can see that his father prefers Odin over his own son. This favoritism influences Hugo to always seeking for attention and approval from his father and peers. Odin is the ‘token’ black boy of school and ultimately is the star of the basketball team. Hugo’s true jealousy begins when Odin overlooks him for a position he believes he deserves. Instead, Odin bestowes MVP to an underclassmen, Michael. Just like Iago in the play Othello, Hugo burns with jealousy and anger to such a high degree that he is willing to do anything to knock Odin off his throne and become ‘king’ of the court. Just as in the play, Hugo uses manipulation to betray anyone who stands in his way of revenge.
The first step in Iago’s revenge plan is to team up with Roderigo, who is undoubtedly is in love with Desdemona. In his speech to Roderigo, Iago comes to the conclusion that Roderigo’s feelings for Desdemona will fade and that she too will eventually get fed up with her betrothed. He supports this theory by saying Desdemona will get bored of the Moor’s stories and intelligence and that she will settle for his looks, seeing as she did not marry him for his looks in the first place. As mentioned previously, Iago’s plans are purely motivated by his deep set prejudice towards Othello. Iago believes he will achieve his goal of ruining Othello, if he can make Othello suspicious of his own wife. Iago only feels that he can be successful due to his vigorous feeling of inferiority over Othello. In doing, Othello is cast-off and Iago is able to turn everyone against the Moor. Once Othello is alienated he comes to the conclusion that Desdemona is cheating on him, just as Iago wanted. Othello may lack the confidence of his marriage due to his own ethnicity and culture. Othello knows that the color of his skin does not match the ‘pure’ white color of his white Venetian companions, thus creating a distrust in his relationship because he feels as though he is not good enough for her.
Earlier in the play, Othello’s reputation was upstanding, Othello was a honorable and trustworthy demeanor, in other words he was viewed as good by everyone around him, despite being Black. Once Othello kills Desdemona his reputation is ruined and his race is put on display. Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s servant, never brings up the subject of Othello’s race yet, once Desdemona is murdered at his hands Emilia cannot help but spit hatred at him: ‘O, the more angel she, And you the blacker devil!’. Othello’s blackness, his marriage to Desdemona, a white woman, and his killing of his wife all coincide creating the perfect formula for a Shakespearean tragedy. Othello’s killing of his wife relates to their marriage and their marriage relates to his being black, this all comes full circle.
Racism in the play consequently ruined the marriage of the two lovers. If a society has any form of hatred, especially racism, it can affect the lives of people, including their love and it ultimately allows people to ruin the happiness of others.
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Writing help, paraphrasing tool, racism and racial prejudice in othello.
- Iago , Othello , Prejudice , Racism
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In the book, Othello, by William Shakespeare, we see a big impact of racism and racial prejudice. Othello shows a lot of this and how it gets in the way by restraining love in society. He is a black man who is also a great and successful war soldier. He dedicates himself to serve society’s goals by fighting for his country. Even though, Othello is a Moor, he is the most hardworking and the most respected. When it comes to his love life with Desdemona, he is very different. This truly affects Othello’s life and the structure of the course throughout the plot.
- 1 Prejudice in Othello
- 2 Racism in Othello
Prejudice in Othello
Racism in othello.
Throughout the book, racism just keeps getting worse for Othello. Iago doesn’t seem to stand him at all because of the fact that he’s a Moor and that he’s black. Iago believes that an African American person person cannot be successful or good in any way. He also believed that Othello couldn’t marry a beautiful woman who was white. Iago is angered when he finds out that they get married. He bugs out and uses racist language. Iago uses a term to abuse Othello as a “black ram. This shows his true hatred for Othello and black people in general.
As Othello’s awareness of others in society and what the people actually think of him gets to him, he isn’t surprised at all. He begins to realize that everyone in his society actually does think less of him because of who is as a Moor. He sees that Iago was a bad and racist person. The insecurity about his race and the realization that he is different than every person in his society leads to his hatred and anger to really come out. This anger really gets to Othello in which he kills Desdemona. He felt less upon himself and started to lose his self-confidence as a person. He comes to conclusion that Cassio would’ve been a better husband towards Desdemona because he was white and that he was considered a “ladies man. Othello thinks that he was never meant to marry Desdemona.
Throughout Othello’s life, he was greatly affected by race and racial prejudice. He changed as a person because of this and many bad actions took place while realizing it. Othello shows a great role of a strong and loyal soldier until he realizes what society really thinks about him. His non acceptance in society leads to the killing of his wife.
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Racism in Othello by William Shakespeare
Jessica Scott is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where she majored in English and Humanities and minored in Literature, Linguistics, and Classical and Modern Languages. She has over 14 years of experience writing, editing, and tutoring students on literary and educational topics, and is a certified TEFL instructor.
Ellie holds a B.A. with Honors in English from Stanford University. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at Princeton University.
Table of Contents
Racism in othello, racism theme in othello, analysis of racism, lesson summary.
Racism is prejudice toward or discrimination against a person of another race solely because they are of that race. It is a belief that people with another skin color or of another ethnic group have distinct qualities or characteristics that make them inherently "less than," even if this is not the truth.
In William Shakespeare's tragic play, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (usually referred to simply as Othello ), racism takes center stage. In fact, one of the most common connections drawn by literary critics is between Othello and race. Most of the racism in Othello is directed at the titular character, who is described as a Moor in Europe. "Moor" is an antiquated word for people who hail from North Africa. It describes someone whose skin was black or very dark as opposed to the white skin of everyone else in this play.
Despite being from another country, Othello is serving as a general in the European military; his heart is in Venice with the woman he married there, Desdemona. Trouble brews, however, when Iago, an ensign in Othello's unit, fools Othello into believing that his wife and Othello's lieutenant, Cassio, are having an affair. Already self-conscious about his skin color and the fact that he is older than his young, lovely wife, Othello does not question it when he finds his wife's handkerchief in Cassio's possession. He does not realize that the wicked Iago planted that handkerchief just to enrage him, and this pushes him over the edge. In the end, he kills Desdemona in a fit of jealousy, all because of Iago's manipulation.
Iago and Racism
The manipulation carried out by Iago is, at times, racially charged. When he speaks to Desdemona's father, attempting to get him riled up about Othello marrying his daughter, he speaks in a vulgar manner about the two of them, likening Othello to a brutish, dirty farm animal. "An old black ram is tupping your white ewe," he tells him, knowing that the man is already prejudiced toward those who are not white like him. He wants him to visualize something crude violating his pristine, pure daughter, and his language has the desired effect. He takes this even further by telling him that Desdemona and Othello "are making the beast / with two backs." This is a very derogatory way of saying they are having sex by implying that the Black man is more comparable to an inhuman "beast" than to an upstanding man like Othello. This, too, is racist, as it was a stereotype at the time that those from Africa were more likely to give in to their sexual urges, which was seen as disgusting and uncouth by the European elites. In addition to referring to Othello as a "black ram," he also uses other terms like "a Barbary horse" (a type of horse from Africa) and even "the devil" throughout the play, which both have racist connotations.
There is something else hiding behind Iago's racism, however. While it is clear from the beginning of the play that he is already a hateful man at heart, his wickedness is kicked into high gear when Othello promotes Cassio to the position of lieutenant instead of Iago. He also seems to believe that Othello may have slept with his wife ("I do suspect the lusty Moor / Hath leap'd into my seat," he says at one point) but there is no proof of this in the rest of the play. It is unclear if this affair is something that really happened or if Iago is just being paranoid, but his hatred toward Othello as a person melds with his racism toward people of his skin color to produce a character that is even more despicable.
Brabantio and Racism
Brabantio, Desdemona's father, shares Iago's disdain for people of color. He, too, has another reason to hate Othello — he eloped with his daughter without his permission — but much of his attitude toward Othello is based on racial stereotypes and mistaken beliefs about other cultures. He asserts, for example, that the only reason that Desdemona married Othello was that Othello used potions and magic to steal her away. "She is abused," he says, "stol'n from me, and corrupted / By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks." Mountebanks, in this case, are sketchy swindlers, who he thinks are the type of shady characters someone like Othello would be associating with. He is certain that "sans witchcraft," there is no possible way his daughter could ever naturally love a man like Othello because he can't see past his skin color.
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- 0:05 The Tragedy of…
- 3:19 Acts I and II: Iago's…
- 8:20 Acts III and IV:…
- 13:44 Act V: Tragic Action
- 15:44 Themes: The…
- 19:10 Lesson Summary
Some literary critics have theorized that Shakespeare wrote Othello in an attempt to point out the racism that was prevalent in society at the time of its writing. Although the word "Renaissance" sounds like a very enlightened time period, there was, in actuality, a lot of prejudice and discrimination taking place. Much of that prejudice and discrimination was against people like Othello, who were from Africa and/or had darker skin. Many Europeans felt superior to them, which is something that Shakespeare was arguably trying to correct by presenting a hero who was of color. In the end, though, the bad things that Othello did were not due to a flaw of his own or to his own disposition, but to the terrible things that Iago, a white person, had convinced him to do. As such, one of the major themes of the play is racism and its effect on innocent people.
In the text, this racism is presented, not necessarily as a result of some inherent trait of evil within the characters, but as ignorance. Since the Venetians in the play may not have been exposed to many people of other races and cultural backgrounds during the time the play took place, they were quick to assume that there was something "wrong" with them. They feared these "others" and so they assumed they were wicked in some way. But if they had truly gotten to know the Moors like Desdemona got to know Othello instead of acting upon their presuppositions about other races, perhaps the story would have had a different ending.
Race seems to be the main theme of the play, but there are many different critical analyses of it. Some critics assert that perhaps Othello was not actually African at all, but Middle Eastern or just an Englishman with very dark skin. Elizabethans at the time were quick to call any darker-skinned person a "Moor" regardless of whether they actually were from North Africa, and Othello's birthplace is never explicitly stated in the play. So, while some of these critics may agree that the theme of the play is still racism, they say that it is unclear which race (if any) is being discriminated against.
There are also some critics who attempt to set aside the issue of race in Othello altogether or at least diminish its importance to the plot. Others like Laura Reitz-Wilson note that nearly every character in the play shows signs of racism toward Othello. She quotes Edward Berry, writer of "Othello's Alienation", as saying that his race "is not only a mark of his physical alienation but a symbol, to which every character in the play, himself included, must respond." This makes it impossible to view Othello without taking into account the stark differences between the races of the characters. Would Brabantio have been so quick to assume Othello bewitched his daughter had he been a white European like him? And would everyone be so easily convinced that Othello was a bad man if his skin were not dark?
This dichotomy of white versus Black makes the play problematic to perform at times because, according to some scholars, there is still a lingering, unconscious bias in society that makes it too easy for some to see Othello solely as "other" or "less than" because of his race. This same problem is noted in another of Shakespeare's plays, The Merchant of Venice , in which characters also use racial stereotypes (this time against a character from a Jewish background). In that play, however, the character against whom everyone is biased is actually the antagonist, so it is unclear what, if anything, Shakespeare was trying to say about race in that piece.
In Othello , however, it is clear that Shakespeare is attempting to make the audience think twice about how they view darker-skinned people at a time when racism was at a high point.
In Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice , racism is a central theme. This racism is displayed through acts of discrimination and bias toward the main character, Othello, based on his skin color and ethnicity. Unlike nearly everyone else in Shakespeare's works, who are all of European descent, Othello is a Moor , or a man from North Africa. Iago, the play's antagonist, uses this "otherness" to color peoples' opinions about Othello. Iago himself is full of hatred toward Othello because he promoted Cassio to lieutenant instead of him and because he suspects that Othello has slept with his wife. He uses his own racist ideology to stir up racism in others, turning people like Brabantio, the father of Othello's wife Desdemona, against Othello. He then puts Desdemona's handkerchief in Cassio's possession to make Othello think that the two of them are having an affair, which ultimately leads to Othello killing his wife in a jealous rage.
One of the main themes of Othello is racism, but some scholars downplay this aspect by wondering if Othello is actually from North Africa at all. He is described as a Moor, but this term was often used during the Elizabethan era in England as a reference to anyone from Africa, the Middle East, or possibly even England itself who had a darker skin color than the average Englishman. Since no birthplace is given for Othello, they posit, it is possible that he is not actually African, but simply a person of color. Either way, his race is a focal point of the play and drives much of its action.
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Is race a theme in Othello?
Race is one of the main themes in Othello . Much of what happens in the plot is based on the other characters' perceptions of Othello, who is of a different race. Racism can be seen in the dialogue of several characters, most notably Iago, Brabantio, and Roderigo, who speak of Othello with disparaging tems.
How is Othello insecure about his race?
Othello experiences a lot of racism in the play, but he himself also focuses on his race when Iago tries to convince him that his wife is cheating on him with Cassio. He finds it easy to doubt that his wife loves him because he sees himself as an older Black man while she is a young, pretty, white woman. This insecurity leads him to fall for Iago's tricks and believe the worst of Desdemona.
What role does racism play in Othello?
Many literary critics argue that racism is a central theme in Othello . It drives many of the decisions made by its characters, because Othello is a Black man in a city of white Venetians and is often seen as an outsider. Iago, the play's main antagonist, uses racism to turn people against Othello, such as Brabantio, the father of Othello's wife Desdemona.
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- Main Themes of Othello
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Theme Of Racism In Othello
The effects of racism in othello.
A wise philosopher once stated, “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man — the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason” (Schwartsz). It is no revelation that racism often manifests hatred towards minorities. This concept has been widespread throughout the world for centuries. Racism has prevailed through several works of literature including “Othello” by William Shakespeare. In this particular play, the character, Othello, is allegedly a black man who experiences several accounts of racism from other characters, which eventually leads to his downfall. According to psychoanalysis studies, “Hate is grounded in some sense of perceived threat. It is an attitude that can give rise to hostility and aggression toward individuals or groups” (Abrams). Racism is arguably one of the strongest forms
Manipulation of the African Race in Othello In William Shakespeare’s Othello, racism is a principal theme that drives the plot of the entire play. An outlier in Venice, Othello the moor or African, is targeted by his ensign Iago because Cassio who seems to be unqualified, was promoted to a lieutenant before he was. Iago is driven by envy and jealousy and creates a confusing and elaborate plan to deprive Cassio of his position. Iago also shares these envious motives with Roderigo, a man lusting over Othello’s wife.
Prejudice And Racism Exposed In Shakespeare's Othello
Othello 's own brainstorm when he describes murderous green eyed monster as innate in the married man married woman relationship which suggests the wife as the exclusive possession of the husband and is thus at betting odds with the man status wherein one California n never know another individual's inmost persuasion and desires: "O curse word of marriage observance! That we can call these delicate beasts ours and not their appetite!" Several Recent critics have sought to explain Othello's behavior as arising from his insecurity as a blackness in a racialist White person society. However, I would contend that the child's play forcefully combats racism which suggests blacks and egg white s as essentially different precisely by its presentation of Othello as not at all different from any white husband. The maturation of his jealousy, the words of prop possession
What Are The Interlopers In The Great Gatsby
Since Othello utters that since he is with Desdemona, her reputation “is now begrimed and black,” it presents how a black man can tarnish the “fresh” identity of a white women. Since Othello is accepted and praised as a war hero, but not accepted as lover, love becomes a barrier that leads to a tragedy. Societal expectations push people to the point where they try to surpass society’s norms. Though, when they reach this tipping point, tragedy will
Crisis Of Identity In Othello Essay
Othello’s This rage at Desdemona’s infidelity signals destmetion of his identity as a successful and loving man. It shows that he now completely loses control of himself, he no longer is that gentle man. He has become so poisoned by the manipulation of Iago, he no longer hears out for his “fair
Danger Of Jealousy In Othello
For example, when Roderigo shouts, “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe!” Shouting racial slurs about Othello, blatantly calling him black and constantly referring him to an animal says that Roderigo is jealous that Othello has managed to win Desdemona’s love. Insulting Othello is cruel and is a malicious act on Roderigo’s behalf, but his motivation for being so vengeful is that he is extremely jealous of Othello. Another example of how Shakespeare conveys that jealousy is the motivation behind committing malicious acts is when Iago states he will ruin Othello, “I hate the Moor, and it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets. Has done my office.
New Historicism In Othello
We find both racial attitudes towards Othello even though he is a man that works hard to get what he wants. The racial attitude is only because of the era that they live in, the Elizabethan era in
The Role Of The Outsiders In Othello
Othello is preoccupied with his race but still manages to take advantage of Iago’s class. Iago preoccupied with his class, still manages to take advantage of Othello’s race. Despite doing no harm to Othello and Iago directly, Cassio destroys both of the men’s marriages and in turn
Adiche's Othello: A Single Story
In William Shakespeare’s Othello, other characters assume Othello’s traits, habits, and abilities simply based on his single story. Othello’s single story is exceedingly normal; he is Muslim, from Northern Africa, and black. Adiche says, “a single story robs people of their dignity” (Adiche), basing their assumptions on facts they do not like, characters such as Brabantio
Defining Racism To properly lay out the issue of racism in the play it is desirable to know how the term itself is defined. The Oxford English Dictionary explains Racism as follows: A belief that one’s own racial or ethnic group is superior, or that other such groups represent a threat to one 's cultural identity, racial integrity, or economic well-being; (also) a belief that the members of different racial or ethnic groups possess specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities, which can be compared and evaluated. Hence: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of other racial or ethnic groups.
Othello Research Paper
Iago’s conception of a black man being an army general was not accepted the Vinezians hence it was very difficult for Iago and Rodrigo to see thyself of working under the authority of Othello as a general. In fact they were not use to that phenomenon since it was not something accepted precisely by the people of Venice. I t was very difficult for them to adjust because all they knew is white man suppose to be in control but this was rather the opposite. From the play Iago felt one of them in the army apart from Othello was supposed to be in charge and command the army instead of a black man who is Othello. There was this mentality that black people according to the play cannot be the leader of supervisor hence out of racism they felt they had to get rid of Othello and that could break down his marriage and his
The Little Black Boy In Othello
Consider the representation of racial and/or national identities in the work of at least two writers studied in this module.
Othello Tragic Hero
However, the theme of the play revolves more around Iago than Othello. From the very beginning, Othello is an outsider in the public arena. He is a Moor, an outsider and a black man from North Africa and is consequently victimized in an all-white society. However, his
Race In Othello
Othello IO Tinatin Kakabadze Period F 9/1/15 Word Count: 1222 “Race” in the context of Elizabethan England Race, in Elizabethan Era, which was from 1485 to 1603 and was known as the Golden Age of England, was usually ignored. People with dark skin were thought of as exotic and bizarre, though they had no rights as they were forced into England despite many protests. Due to the way North/West Africans clothed themselves, many people in Elizabethan England would call them ‘devils’ and other obscene things. Though, they soon grew a few rights and weren't ridiculed as much, but were still thought of as a lower race.
Gender Differences In Othello
Outline: How could the text be read and interpreted differently by two different readers from different race and gender. Key points: -Point of view by the readers could matter depending on the type of person such as feminist or a racist. -The interpretation of the character Othello -Iago being racist to Othello Throughout the play Othello by William Shakespeare, there could be many different interpretations and disagreements with other readers, depending on what time period you have lived in, what race you are and what gender you are.
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The Theme of Racism in Othello by William Shakespeare
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Othello is one of the first black heroes in English literature. A military general, he has risen to a position of power and influence. At the same time, his status as a black-skinned foreigner in Venice marks him as an outsider and exposes him to some pretty overt racism, especially by his wife's father, who believes his daughter's interracial marriage can only be the result of Othello's trickery.
Because the play portrays the uber-racist fear of miscegenation (the mixing of races via marriage and/or sex), it's nearly impossible to talk about race in Othello without also discussing gender and sexuality.
Questions About Race
- Which characters in the play make an issue of Othello's race? What kinds of stereotypes are at work in this play?
- How does Othello's race affect his relationships with his wife and other characters?
- How does Othello's race play a role in the hero's self-identity?
Chew on This
In Othello , Shakespeare creates a hero who is not a racist stereotype. Despite this, Shakespeare ultimately allows Othello to succumb to the subtle racism that surrounds him. Othello views his own racial identity as undesirable, and it is this lack of confidence in himself that allows Iago to persuade him that Desdemona is cheating on him.
- Act 1, Scene 1
- Act 1, Scene 2
- Act 1, Scene 3
- Act 2, Scene 1
- Act 2, Scene 2
- Act 2, Scene 3
- Act 3, Scene 1
- Act 3, Scene 2
- Act 3, Scene 3
- Act 3, Scene 4
- Act 4, Scene 1
- Act 4, Scene 2
- Act 4, Scene 3
- Act 5, Scene 1
- Act 5, Scene 2
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