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Show how the symbolism and imagery of blackness help Shakespeare to create meaning in the play

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Introduction

Show how the symbolism and imagery of blackness help Shakespeare to create meaning in the play Shakespeare uses various symbol of blackness to express negative and racist attitudes. He does this to meet the expectations of the Elizabethan audience, who held certain misconceptions about black people. Shakespeare uses this early in the play and involves characters such as Brabantio, Iago and Roderigo, this also assist in the construction of imagery. These racist remarks are directed towards Othello and the majority of the racist comments involve references to black stereotypes. Although, one of the plays focuses is the theme of racism, Othello's demise is not triggered by racism as he ignores these remarks. If Othello had taken notice of the abuse, the story would be different as Othello would have left Desdemona to escape from the prejudice. However, he stood by her, claiming that he loved her, not for sex or to upset her father, but he 'loved her'. ...read more.

Middle

When this play was written (Elizabethan England), the colour black was associated with evil, decay and death, all of which are negative features. For this reason, black people in plays were commonly stereotyped as criminals, Othello is a black man in a white society. Consequently the quote could have been seen as a compliment or an insult as the Duke is saying that black people are evil, but Othello is an exception. As Othello is of a 'free and open nature', it allows Iago to influence him later in the play. We discover that even early in the play, people such as Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio are stereotyping black people and are directing their stereotypes towards Othello. They make remarks such as 'thick-lips'. This is a common stereotype made of black people, however we know that not all black people have thick-lips. Historically moors were enemies of Christians and they were represented as devils or rogues. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the beginning of the play Iago informs Brabantio that his daughter Desdemona is missing. Iago makes it out as if Othello has kidnapped her and he succeeded in striking panic into Brabantio when he says 'even now, now, very now, an old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe'. Iago refers Othello as a 'black ram' and he refers Desdemona as a 'white ewe', this use of animals and their colours clearly shows us the difference in their skin colours and their social status. Othello is depicted as a ram. Rams have horns, this symbolizes demons and the colour black symbolizes death and evil. On the other hand, the colour white is seen as sure and innocent. By scaring Brabantio with comments such as 'your daughter/ and the moor are now making the beast with two backs. We can see that this quote is saying that Othello is having sex with Desdemona as they have 'two backs'. This immediately places an image into Branbantio's mind, which consequently forces him to react negatively towards Othello. Joe Tran 10RLE Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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