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How do you respond to the presentation of racial and sexual issues in Othello in Act I scene iii?

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Introduction

Adheela Rafique How do you respond to the presentation of racial and sexual issues in Othello in Act I scene iii? Bear in mind: * Opposing points of view * How this scene fits into the context of the play as a whole when you present your argument. Othello is a play by Shakespeare which is said to be written in the first quarto of 1622, according to William Rolfe. There are several ideas explored through the play: Sex and violence, Love and Hate, Honour and Dishonesty, Loyalty and Betrayal, Trust and Suspicion. There are also many themes in this play, some of these are: pride, jealousy and racism. However the main theme throughout the play is the love between Othello and Desdemona. William Rolfe in his book of A life of William Shakespeare explains that stokes were written in the quarto of 1622, the oath 'S' blood while this is omitted in folio. In 1622, Othello was first put into print by Thomas Walkley which was the last edition of single play before collected edition. Othello was Shakespeare's best plays during the seventeenth century. Othello had made the transition from stage to film over twenty times and from stage to TV at least 5 times. ...read more.

Middle

Lawrence Danson believes "Masculine anxiety about female self possession is one result of tragic protagonist, a general desire for knowledge" he thinks that this power cannot be used to control a wife like the "absolutist demands". I personally agree to this opinion as it is wrong for an "absolutist" to have knowledge and control over their wife. A wife should be trusted and given freedom and it is wrong to be controlled by their husbands. Desdemona and Othello's relationship is different from other relationships as both these characters are equal in their relationship, therefore there is no dissatisfaction with the two characters, and Iago leads this marriage to a breakdown. Marriage has made Emilia cynical about male-female relationships; she thinks she is just "food" for Iago as she is acceptable until she disobeys him and refuses to be silent and is then called a "Villainous whore". This shows that in this relationship all the power is given to Iago and therefore she is unhappy. In comparison to Othello and Desdemona's relationship where there is no dissatisfaction "That there be woman who abuse their husband/in such gross kind?" Iago believes from the start that the relationship between Othello and Desdemona will not last, he is willing to put money on it "It cannot be that/Desdemona should long continue her love to the/ Moor -Put money in thy purse-nor he is to her". ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago destroys the black white harmony there is in society and makes Othello behave in a way that is unnatural for him but is expected from him as a black character in an Elizabethan drama. The black stereotype is created through Iago's racist descriptions 'an old black ram is tupping your white ewe'. Iago's imagery is cruder than Brabantio, Roderigo with his reference to 'an old black ram' 'a barbary horse' and 'the beast with two backs'. Stephen Greenblatt's intro to Othello in Norton Shakespeare says that it doesn't matter what skin you are what matters is the 'existential situation of being an outsider scorned by society's insiders' I agree to this as well, I think that colour should not play a big part in this play but to an Elizabethan audience it really mattered. Iago is jealous of Othello because of his 'daily beauty' in the moor's life. His motives for destroying Othello's happiness are by negative impulses and his sexual jealousy. Othello has many racial issues and sexual issues in this play which are extreme in today's society and no one would even consider thinking some of the things that Iago's said 'old black ram'. ...read more.

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