• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Colour as a theme in Othello

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Colours in Othello Racism-a topic which has always caused conflict throughout history whether it be during the Crusades between European Christians and the Muslim Turks, the Holocaust between the Nazi Germany and the Jewish people, or the slavery and segregation of black people in the United States. It is clear that racism is a serious issue in the play Othello by William Shakespeare as well. Considering the fact that Othello is a Moor, a black man who is married a black man who is also married to Desdemona, a white Christian woman, the stage it set for Shakespeare to explore the theme. Although Othello is highly respected for his achievements in war, his race plays a majour role in the play for it brings out the latent racism that was hidden among many of the characters, leaving the audience to ponder the significance of race. Throughout the play, many characters use racist language to describe Othello in moments of their frustration and anger. When Iago finds out that Othello secretly married Desdemona, he sees it as a great opportunity for revenge since Othello chose Cassio to become his lieutenant instead of himself. "What a full fortune does the think-lips owe,/ If he can carry't thus!" (I,i,65-66) ...read more.

Middle

In several parts of the play, Shakespeare uses black and white imagery in describing Othello. In the beginning of the play when Iago is talking with Brabantio, he says, "Even now, now, very now, an old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe" (I,i,88-89) illustrating how the moor and Desdemona are having sex and their contrasting skin colours. Othello later points out Desdemona's whiteness as he watches her sleep before killing her and says, "Yet I'll not shed her blood,/ Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,/ And smooth as monumental alabaster" (V,ii,3-5) meaning that he will not ruin her beauty by shedding her blood, but he also acknowledges Desdemona's "whiter skin". He recognizes once again his difference in their colours and also thinks that if he scars her white skin, he will be "tainting" it like his own as though destroying the goodness still left in her appearance, if not also in her character. When Othello murders Desdemona for her infidelity with Cassio, Emilia says, "O the more angel she,/ And you the blacker devil... Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil" (V,ii,132-135) describing how Desdemona is like a white angel and how Othello is like a black devil. With this being said, the black and white imagery also relates to the good and evil contrast wince colours are very symbolic. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that many characters use racist language such as animalizing and demonizing him as well as using black and white imagery which enhances the disparateness of Othello as a black man, it seems as though Othello himself is not offended by this even when they are said straight to his face. This is seen quite clearly because Othello uses black and white imagery himself and says "[Desdemona's] name, that was fresh/ As Dian's visage, is now begrimed and black/ As my own face" when he is confused whether Desdemona is truthful and is struggling to figure out if he still loves her or not. This demonstrates how racism leads to self-loathing and makes people feel inferior to others and Othello himself probably decided not to bother whether his society treats him as a black man for he noticed that he will not be able to change how he looks from the outside, but rather he can only change who he is form the inside through accomplishments. This leaves the audience pondering whether it is race and external aspects of people or if it is internal aspects such as personality and the way a person lived their life that really determines a person's success in life. In the end, Iago knows what people really are, and his ability to unleash the latent racism in so many of the other wise noble characters is what leads to the tragic outcome of the play. Word Count: 1356 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Free essay

    Comparing Catcher in the Rye and the Bell Jar

    This was also exemplified when Holden did not want to throw the snowball at the snow-covered street. The snow symbolized purity and Holden's desire to preserve all the innocence that is left in the world. Holden wishes to protect children from falling out of the innocence of their childhood into the adult world.

  2. Hamlet Journal - rewriting key passages from the play

    In this wicked world, those who sin take the benefits and bend the rules. But not in heaven, up there, every action is judged for exactly what it is, and we're forced to confront our crimes. So what can I do?

  1. "Glass Menagerie" and "The Final Passage". Compare and Contrast ways in which you consider ...

    On a different note, Amanda could be described as emotionally free as she uses escapism to avoid feelings of entrapment, she 'frantically clings to another time and place' in order to escape mentally.

  2. Poetry Anthology with commentaries

    Her descriptions of the weather on the open sea during winter gives the impression that she has been on a ship in such weather. She also gives the impression that everything you experience out there could possibly kill you. For example, she says "each wave-tip glitters like a knife," and

  1. Those qualities which made Othello heroic (or admirable or exceptional) also caused his suffering. ...

    If that were to happen he says, ?...all indign and base adversities / Make head against me estimation? (1.3.276-77). This quote shows the importance of reputation and honour to Othello himself. He attempts to describe the worst thing that would occur if he were to shirk his responsibilities, and decides that it is a tarnished reputation.

  2. Othello - A Racist Play?

    already raised regarding the nature of race, its social implications and furthermore, the correlation of a person?s outer appearance and inner self.[1] The issue of racism and stereotyping is obvious in the play and is pivotal for the interpretation of the play.

  1. Literary Analysis: Julius Caesar v. The Lord of the Flies

    Antony has become completely and entirely vindictive, corrupted by his newfound power. He, Octavius, and Lepidus have established an army and are preparing to fight Brutus and Cassius. Not only does he consent to the assassination of those in Caesar's will in order to increase his share, but he also

  2. An exploration of Desdemonas transgression of social norms within Shakespeares Othello.

    Furthermore, Desdemona exhibits signs of wielding power over Othello. Cassio jokingly refers to Desdemona as ?our great Captain?s Captain? (II.1.75), implying she possesses the capability to control Othello. Desdemona openly acknowledges her power when telling Cassio about her attempt to reinstate his position, ?My lord shall never rest? (III.3.22)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work