• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In Othello Shakespeare explores the nature of social prejudice. How far does your reading of the play support this view?

Extracts from this document...


'In Othello Shakespeare explores the nature of social prejudice'. How far does your reading of the play support this view? Although Shakespeare does display the unusual trait of empathy towards society's 'outcasts'; most of society at that time was plagued by 'social prejudice'. However, prejudice in itself is a loose term for it simply refers to bigotry. Thus, it provides a rather extensive category to examine, for instance, in 'Othello' racism is the most prevalent form of prejudice, yet misogyny and intellectual prejudice is also apparent. Instead, it's the 'social' aspect of the phrase that narrows the focus down a little as now it is apparent that the prejudice is not confined to any particular person, the problem being of course, that the only way for Shakespeare to portray such prejudices is through the medium of individuals. Those with a higher status within society are generally perceived to be those who are the most cautious with their views, yet Brabantio demonstrates no notion of restraint when Othello 'enchants' Desdemona and marries her. In fact, Brabantio's prejudices are conveyed in quite a brazen and passionate manner as he contrasts the "thief" of Othello with the "delicate youth" of Desdemona. ...read more.


"I do beseech you send for the lady to the Sagittary", up until this point, the notion of asking for Desdemona's version of events has not even been considered. This is perhaps indicative of the role of women in society back then, where they were secondary to men and thus, were not considered to be useful when dealing with issues such as this one, despite being involved. This is Shakespeare depicting prejudice subtly, for nothing is actually said that is specifically derogatory towards women, but the absence of women does highlight the arrogance of men in society as well as showing that the most objective people were often the victims of prejudice themselves, like Othello in this instance. "'Tis such another fitchew! Marry a perfumed one." Another prejudice is present here as Bianca is regarded with contempt by Cassio, the very person who she sleeps with. Prostitutes have always had a lower status in society for the sordid lives that they lead. No one in 'Othello' appears to be quite as poorly regarded as Bianca as highlighted by the fact that even Emilia berates Bianca. Bianca's wish appears to be to marry Cassio, yet he does not even consider the possibility. ...read more.


However, this interpretation also highlights the uniqueness of Desdemona's character. Due to her unparalleled lack of prejudice, Desdemona cannot be perceived as representing 'social prejudices' but instead acting as a beacon against it. She is clearly an exception to society rather than the norm in society and by effectively symbolising the exact opposite of 'social prejudices', she highlights the fact that 'social prejudice' is in fact present. Overall, there is little doubting that prejudice is rife in 'Othello' and it is demonstrated by the language of several characters (Brabantio when speaking to Othello, Cassio when speaking about Bianca and Iago about almost every other character in the play). The 'social' aspect of these prejudices is further emphasised by the use of common stereotypes at that time as well as the prevalence of prejudice in characters and also, the use of Brabantio's status in society to show that the tendency of those in power to be driven by their attitudes. However, through the depiction of the Duke's calm resolve, the union of two races, and also Desdemona's incredible purity, Shakespeare does highlight that society is not solely governed by prejudice and also shows that it is possible for individuals to hold rational views separate from that of 'social prejudices'. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. In Othello Shakespeare explores the nature of social prejudice How far does your reading ...

    By Act 1 Scene 2, the theme of prejudice has already been established by the vocabulary Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio use to describe Othello; his name is never spoken, with insulting racist terms such as 'thick-lips', 'black ram' and simply 'the Moor', used in its place.

  2. 'Othello portrays a world that has the same conviction as our own: that stupidity ...

    The speech itself is detached and Cassio uses language that he would not use were he sober. This emphasises his stupidity as he does not seem to know what he is saying and how much of an idiot he is.

  1. How far do we see different attitudes to love presented in Othello?

    or brings her into relation with the storm - "Tempests themselves...do omit / Their mortal natures, letting go safely by / The divine Desdemona", it is also clear that he sees her in connection with adventures of the sea. Both Othello and Cassio are key characters who think of love and war as one.

  2. ACT IV-SCENE III- close analysis+ focus on Desdemona and Emilias contrasting views of marriage. ...

    ..."prithee dispatch")defending her actions by reminding herself of her duties, after all she "must not now displease him". Again these remarks give an insight into her beliefs on marriage, which read like those of a perfect 'dutiful' Elizabethan wife. Her unwavering determination to submit to her husband's wishes would be

  1. Free essay

    Do you think this is how Shakespeare wanted to portray or present the character?Samuel ...

    become the home of a spectacular opulence of literature, painting, architecture and music. Cyprus, on the other hand, was a fortified outpost on the edge of Christian territory that was a bastion of male military power. David M. Zesmer (Guide to Shakespeare, 1976)

  2. Coleridge states that Iago is a being next to the devil driven by motiveless ...

    thank you, I am not of many words, but I thank you." [1.1.118] With direct comparison to Iago's initial impression, this suggests that Don John lacks the self-confidence and intellectual arrogance as he is "not of many words". The temptation scene is a pivotal scene in which Iago uses his

  1. In Othello Shakespeare presents a society in which there is one form of morality ...

    Hence Bianca protest that she is "no strumpet, but of life as honest" is ignored by the rest of the company. Even Emilia shares that attitude, which proves that it is not just men that participated in the sexual discrimination but also women themselves.

  2. Evaluation of BBC version of Othello

    The image of Desdemona praying to God shows her purity and makes us hate Othelo even more, as the image makes the audience feel this sense of foreboding which makes the tension even more. But what is different about he opera is that Othello's religion is shown there as well, as being a perfectly valid religion alongside Desdemona's religion.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work