Venetian Society in the 16th Century.
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Venetian Society in the 16th Century During the 16th century Venetian society was one very much of who u knew and what name u carried. I gathered this from reading act1 scene1 when Iago and Roderigo are talking of Iago's failure to secure the position of 'The Moor's lieutenant, 'In personal suit to make me his lieutenant.' To start with, it becomes clear at the very start of the act that Iago is simply using Roderigo as a pawn in the plan he has conspired, both for connections and for money, as Roderigo says 'I take it much unkindly that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse As if the strings were thine shouldst know of this.' The way in which Iago replies is a brush off of Roderigo's worried and confirms that he is only using this man for obviously his money and probably his connection as we know that Roderigo is a man of good name, and one of no great intelligence.
Women were thought of as possessions, particularly of their father's and then later on, of their husband's. Talking of Desdemona's 'elopement' with Othello is also indicative of the racism present within the society. Iago refers to Othello as an 'old black ram' and 'the Moor.' Both of these are very racist names, a Moor is a coloured person from Africa, and the reference to animal form is insulting in itself, even more so when stated along side 'old'. The way in which Iago talks is very crude and provocative towards Brabantio, 'you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse, you'll have your nephews nigh to you.' This is a reference to Othello as a 'Barbary horse covering', again using animalistic imagery to insult, and using Othello's race to upset Brabantio more than need be.
However, despite evidence of racism, there is some contrary evidence. Othello, though a coloured man has far exceeded Iago or Roderigo in success, and Iago is clearly prejudiced toward Othello because he was not offered the job as Othello's 'right hand man', and towards Cassio because he was chosen to be so. This leaves me with the impression that within this society prejudice was only formed if you happened to exceed someone else or they felt some reason to be jealous. Overall I have gathered that the Venetian society at this point in time was an excusive and wealthy society in which a good name was everything and loyalty and honesty were of very little worth, as Iago exaggerates when talking of his want to 'Whip me such honest knaves... Have some soul' (lines 44 to 54).
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