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Comment on Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello. Do you think that it is fair on unfair (i.e. does he present Othello as a real person or a simple stereotype)?

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Elizabeth Wood Comment on Shakespeare's portrayal of Othello. Do you think that it is fair on unfair (i.e. does he present Othello as a real person or a simple stereotype)? In Shakespeare's time black people were classed as second-class citizens. They were often looked at as devil-like and evil. This was, however, a stereotypical view, often accepted by the people of Shakespeare's day. People looked at the Bible to show that black people were devil-like and evil. The Bible tells the story of Noah and the Ark. In the Ark it was forbidden to have children, as there would not be enough food. However, Ham, one of Noah's sons, decided to disobey these rules, as he wanted to have the son who would be ruler of the world. When Noah found out and they returned to land, Noah banished Ham to Africa. Ham had committed sin and was evil and devil-like because he had disobeyed his father for his own self-interest, risking the lives of others in the Ark. ...read more.


Othello could be seen as irrational when he kills Desdemona by smothering her, Act 5, Scene 2, and Line 85. Iago, however, is far more irrational then Othello ever could have be seen to be and Iago is white. Iago's irrationality can be seen in one of his soliloquies. " I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip, / Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb-/ For I fear Cassio with my night cap too-"(II i 286-288). Here Iago is saying how he believes his wife has been sleeping with Cassio, of which he has no verification. He says in effect that he wants Cassio dead. This shows Iago's irrationality because he has no reason to have Cassio dead, or to even contemplate that he has slept with his wife. Iago provokes many deaths, without remorse, which shows that he has extreme irrationality. Being devil-like was another typical view people had of blacks. Othello while he is in a rage could be seen as devil-like. ...read more.


Othello then becomes an uncontrollable, violent man. Othello never stops his passionate loving for Desdemona but feels it his duty to kill her before she breaks more men's hearts. "Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men"(V ii 6). Othello says these words to himself while Desdemona is sleeping, before he is about to smother her. At the beginning of Othello you would never have thought that anything could ever come between a couple bearing so much love for each other. However, all that was needed to break this loving couple apart was Iago, gently introducing ideas, mentioning, just little things like Cassio's quick departures from Desdemona. "Cassio, my lord; No sure I cannot think it/ That he would steal away so guilty-like, / Seeing you coming."(III iii 38-40). Iago keeps slipping in comments about Desdemona, until Othello becomes so caught up with jealousy that he is convinced of his wife's unfaithfulness. As Othello has so much passion, his anger is brewed into a huge mental tornado, which takes time to build up, but when at full strength can destroy even what seem like the strongest things, Othello and Desdemona's marriage, and resulting in the death of Desdemona. ...read more.

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