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

Racism in Othello

Extracts from this document...


Racism in Othello It's not hard to imagine that Othello was probably Shakespeare's most controversial play. In the play, Othello Shakespeare's shows the audience a transformation of a barbarous black man into a respected soldier and nobleman. At the time this play was written, black people were only known as slaves. That is why there is a clear theme of racism throughout the play. Society rejects the marriage of Othello and Desdemona, sees it as an act "against all rules of nature"(act 1.3, line 102). Society has no real reason to reject the marriage of Othello and Desdemona. Othello matches or even exceeds the other men trying to win Desdemona hand in marriage. Nothing separates Othello from "the wealthy, curled darlings of our nation"(act 1.2, line 68) except his skin-color. Iago, Brabantion, Roderigo and Emilia are all main characters that have racist feeling toward Othello. Out of these main characters Iago shows the most racist in the play. In the play Othello, Iago is a character that obviously has a plane to bring Othello down from his high place in society. Iago hates Othello because when Othello chose his lieutenant, he chose Cassio and not him. Iago believe he should have been the lieutenant because he has war experience and Cassio doesn't. In the play, Iago is the catalyst of all the destructive events within the play. ...read more.


This event supports the idea of white purity equals goodness and that other race, such as African-American, represents darkness and evil. When cabining the blackness of Othello and the fair whiteness of Desdemona in marriage, the audience will see nothing but chaos coming from it. This seems to be the concept that Shakespeare was playing with. That White and Black natural can't mix, which by today's standers in society is considered very racist. In Act 2, while conversing with Roderigo, Iago states that she will find the fault in her choice because she will notice how Othello lacks, IAGO: love liness in favor, sympathy in years, manners and beauties. (act 2.1, lines 226-228) Everyone seems to think that marrying Othello was not a smart thing for Desdemona to do because of Othello's skin color. All characters seem to see the marriage as becoming an inevitable failure. In Act 3, scene 3, the audience starts to see the methods of Iago in progress to make Othello doubt Desdemona, by making him doubt himself. Following Othello's refusal of believing that Desdemona has cheated on him with Cassio. Iago reminds him of his nature as an outsider and assures Othello that "I know our country's disposition well"(act 3.3, line 204). Making Othello believe he is an outsider, Iago can also makes him believe that he is lacking in the knowledge of Venetian woman. ...read more.


Othello acknowledges the fact that he is different and realizes his faults. When choosing to take his own life, Othello's last words are to those standing around him. He tells them to speak of him as he truly is, and know that, OTHELLO: Like the base Judean, threw a pearl away Richer than all his tribe (act 5.2, lines 345-346). All of this was brought about by Iago, but only because he was able to play on the insecurities that Othello had about his race. Although Othello is not made out to be the cleverest and most cunning character in the play, he does have a certain wit about him that is uncommon among a European Moor. Othello is a romantic man who has won the heart of Desdemona, the senator's daughter, with his stories of battles. Othello is also a hero whose life is full of good deeds. With all he has accomplished, he should be able to escape from preconceived notions of his race. But the play shows all too clearly how thin the value of his reputation was, in the eyes of others and to himself. Othello is an example of a noble black man at a time when black men and woman were not known except as slaves. The racism in the play reduced a black nobleman to a barbarous state, which everyone, at the time the play was written, expected. We can criticize Shakespeare's use of racism, but we have to remember that racism was part of the culture in which he was writing in. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Othello 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 University Degree Othello essays

  1. Iago is a powerful predator who exploits those around him by infecting their perceptions ...

    Through the elevated use of his language and allusions, his real motives become clear. Iago is a very deceptive individual, and through his elaborate speeches, he uses many literary devices to conjure and cajole individuals just to see his plans flourish.

  2. Free essay

    Othello. Emilias monologue in act IV scene iii lines 82-99 articulate her views ...

    In conclusion, Shakespeare creates comparisons between the three women in Othello. In particular the women's relationship with men it is notable that all three women have been ill used by men. Emilia states that men "are all but stomachs, and we are all but food.

  1. In William Shakespeares Othello, we witness the tragedy of a man tormented by the ...

    ] In contrast to a holy marriage, in which the bride and groom stand, Othello and Iago's marriage is of a lower rank and performed at a physically lower level. Bruce R. Smith describes it as a "parody of a marriage rite" and remarks that "the parody is all the

  2. A marriage of convenience? Othello.

    After all, it was Brabantio who had had Othello at his home, and it would have been almost impossible for him to miss any of the interest signs as showed by Desdemona's admiration for the moor or the moor's physical attraction to Desdemona.

  1. Othello: Noble Moor or Dangerous Savage?

    Indeed, throughout the play, Othello's character makes use of that which is often termed 'the Othello music' suffice to say, he speaks with an articulate quality matched by no other; 'Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors...' ACT I.3.76 Only Othello is truly given this use of language and his eloquent

  2. Show how Shakespeare sets out the contrasting characters of Othello and Iago in Act ...

    This shows us that Othello's method of getting out of difficult situations such as this one would be to trust in himself and be honest, whereas Iago would almost certainly tell a lie and/or blame somebody else. This is a major contrast in the two characters in the play.

  1. Othello as a Tragic Hero.

    At a turning point in the play where he is tortured with disbelief and images in his mind, the usually collected and brave Othello is seen withering both physically and emotionally at the mercy of Iago. In Act IV, Scene I, we see Othello fall into a trance after falling

  2. It is impossible to decide weather issues of race and gender should be central ...

    To describe him as a noble black skinned man, seems to go against all that is believed in society, against the norm. Throughout the play Othello is said to have been a slave in two ways. Firstly he tells Desdemona that he was sold to slavery: "Of being taken by the insolent foe And sold to slavery;" (Shakespeare, I.iii.138-139)

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