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' To the Shakerspearean audience, the notion of mixed marriages was not just unnatural, it was evil and would be punished - 'How valid does this comment seem to you when applied to Othello?

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' To the Shakerspearean audience, the notion of mixed marriages was not just unnatural, it was evil and would be punished.' How valid does this comment seem to you when applied to Othello? You should use as your starting point examination of relavent material from the central section of Act I Scene 3 from the entry of Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, and Officers to when the Duke says ' Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.' 'Othello' was written at a time of great racial tension in England. In fact, in the year that Othello was written, the government had tried to banish black people from England, so maybe this is why Shakespeare makes a black man noble, and the tragic hero in this play.Race and colour play an unquestionable role in the way in which we interpret the play, its characters and events. There is a clear theme of racism throughout the play, one of which was firmly embedded in the Venetian society which regards the marriage of Othello and Desdemona as 'against the rules of nature' ( 1.3.101). Othello matches, or even exceeds the reputations of all the other Venetians, the only thing separating him from them is his skin colour. At the start of the play, when Othello is accused of evil and witchcraft, he is confident that his reputation and military stature will come to his aid, and save him.Reputation was very important in Shakespeare's time, so Othello believes that his will ...read more.


Also, he cannot imagine that she could 'fall in love with what she feared to look on' (1.3.98) without the aid of magic spells, and he imlies that it is Othello's race that makes him capable of black magic, and dark arts. It is obvious that if Desdemona had married Roderigo, he would not have been accused of magic or witchcraft. These events so early on in the play establish the idea of white purity and goodness, implying that other races represent darkness and evil. The clear cut contrast between the blackness of Othello and the fair whiteness of Desdemona is established, and united in matrimony. Shakespeare uses this unity to suggest the chaos this would cause in a cultural context.Brabantio's reaction to his daughter's marriage is very significant. Before this point, Othello has been treated with great reverence in Venetian society, but Shakespeare creates this moment of crisis to determine the extent to which Othello's reputation will protect him. Although Othello is not a clever or cunning character, he is one of Shakespeare's bravest characters, and shows a certain wit that was uncommon to the European notion of a Moor.He is an eloquent, romantic man who has won the heart of a senator's daughter. He is a hero who has led a life full of good deeds, which was necessary for him (a Moor) to have a tolerated existence in a predominantly white culture. ...read more.


The action has been slowed down to a sombre pace, and Othello has descended to a savage-like state, that both characters and the audience would have expected. Desdemona's death was probably expected by everyone who first saw the marriage as forbidden, however Othello's death is more significant. It represents the 'other' failing after trying to achieve the status of a fair man. Othello ultimately acknowledges that he is an outsider, or 'other' when he realises his irreconcilable fault and chooses to kill himself. Othello's suicide is a public declaration of his shame and honour, brought on by Iago playing on his deep down insecurities. The opposition represented by the marriage of the dark Othello, and fair Desdemona, illustrates cultural tension. The failure of the two to be together successfully, demonstrates a cultural failure. Racism is the tool used to destroy the lives of two people who are visually different. Although Shakespeare's use of racism can be critised, it was inherent in the culturein which he was writing, and Iago simply recognises an effective way to bring Othello down. Othello is an example of a noble black man in a time when negroes where not known except as slaves. Yet racism in the society in which he lived, was capable of reducing him to the savage state that everyone expected of him. Shakespeare presents us with a morality play at the historical heights of the colonial slave trade, with racism as part of its core. We first see this through Brabantio, and then through the tragic consequences when Othello, with Iago's help, turns social prejudice onto himself. ...read more.

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