Essay, Research Paper: Othello And Racism

Shakespeare: Othello

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Although there are lots of things to suggest this is a racist play I don't think
that racism actually dominates the play, even though it has a racist theme.
There is a romantic union between black and white which gets destroyed because
most people think the relationship is wrong. At the time the play was written,
1604, even the Queen of England was racist so there must have been a strong
hatred of blacks around that time. Most racist comments in the play are said by
people that are angry or upset. For example, when Emilia found out that Othello
had killed Desdemona she was extremely mad and she called Othello a
"Blacker devil", this was the only time in the play that she had said
anything racist about Othello. The main characters that have racist attitudes
are Iago, Brabantio, Roderigo and Emilia, with the hatred of Othello as the
basis for their racist actions and comments towards him. Iago is the most racist
character in the book as he has it in for Othello right from the start. What
sparks off Iago's hate towards him is the fact that when Othello chose his
lieutenant , it was Cassio who was chosen instead of Iago. What made Iago angry
was the fact that Cassio had no experience in war when he did and Cassio was
chosen instead of him. Iago does not say anything racist to Othello's face but
he has a lot to say against him behind his back. He schemes to destroy Othello
and anything in his way including Cassio and Desdemona. The first time we hear
one of his racist comments is when he's talking to Brabantio about Othello and
Desdemona, "Even now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white
ewe". Iago says this to try and turn Brabantio against Othello. Iago uses
racist comments all the way through the play, as he tries to turn people against
Othello, for example calling him a "Barbary Horse". He never says
anything racist to Othello's face because in his plot he had to be his best
friend, so as not to make him suspicious that Iago was causing all the trouble
for him. Iago is jealous of Othello for many reasons, one being that Othello has
higher ranking in the army than him, and also he has a good marriage with
Desdemona which Iago does not have himself with Emilia. These are the main
causes of his hatred for Othello and the reason he adopts such a racist
attitude. Roderigo is another one of the racist characters in the play, being so
right from the start. He is Iago's accomplice and will do anything that Iago
wants him to. I think he does this because of the way Iago can twist a situation
to make it sound as if Roderigo would get something good from it but in the end
he doesn't. One of the racist names he calls Othello behind his back is
"Thick-lips" . He hates Othello because he's jealous of him as he also
loves Desdemona but cannot have her. I don't think he views Othello in a very
bad, racist way but uses the racism against Othello because he's jealous of him.
Neither Roderigo or Iago would say anything racist to Othello's face as he is
the general of the army. Brabantio is also a racist character, and is enraged
when he finds out that his daughter, Desdemona, has been seeing "the
moor" behind his back. Brabantio is so mad he sends out his guards to catch
Othello and put him in prison. Brabantio views Othello as a foul and dirty no
good black, I think this racist view of his is because he's angry when he finds
out that his daughter has been seeing this "moor". Unlike Iago and
Roderigo, Brabantio will openly make racist comments about Othello to his face
such as, "lascivious moor", "Wheeling stranger". Brabantio
can do this because he is the Senator of Venice and is higher in rank than
Othello. The other character who is racist towards Othello is Emilia, the lady
in waiting to Desdemona. Emilia is disgusted with Othello when she finds out
that Othello had killed Desdemona this is the time she gets a chance to express
her feelings about Othello, "O, the more angel she, and you the blacker
devil!" Although this is the only time she says what she thinks of him, I
think that she was racist towards Othello all through the play and did not
approve of his relationship with Desdemona but just could not show it because
she would get in trouble with her "lord". Because Shakespeare wrote a
play about a black and white union, which was later destroyed, I think it shows
that he's not racist. I think he feels that the union between the two is right,
but the relationship would never survive in a racist community at that time. He
portrayed the union between Othello and Desdemona as a good thing, and the
people who destroyed it, mainly Iago and Roderigo as evil. This shows once again
that he approves of a black and white relationship and therefore was not racist
himself. Once before Shakespeare wrote a sonnet about his mistress which says,
for example, "If snow be white, why then her breast be dun" He writes
about his mistress being black when other poets of that time wrote about how
their mistresses were white. The other poets were the racist ones, they
girlfriends were always white and perfect, Shakespeare wrote about how his
mistresses is black and not very beautiful. Although the play has a strong
racist theme against blacks I don't think that the play is racist.
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