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"Othello" By William Shakespeare. Essay

1670 words - 7 pages

The theme of racism runs throughout the text Othello by William Shakespeare. Racial prejudice was a vital component to the play and contributed to the tragedy. Constant snide references to the main character Othello's race are made in the duration of the play. The colour of the main characters was also used to symbolize heaven and hell and to create feelings of unease. Despite this, Othello can be interpreted on a much deeper level and is primarily a play about love, and the insane jealousy which can stem from love.Othello tells the story of a black man in a white world. Othello, a black army general has recently married Desdemona, a young white Venetian girl to the disapproval of her father Brabantio. Brabantio disapproves of interracial relationships despite Othello and Desdemona's happiness and his former admiration of Othello, as Othello demonstrates in act I scene III "[Desdemona's] father loved me, oft invited me, still questioned me the story of my life". Othello's trusted right-hand man Iago, who secretly conspires to destroy Othello draws upon this later in the play and draws upon it to enhance his evil plan, later reminding Othello "[Desdemona] did deceive her father, marrying you". This helped Iago plant seeds of doubt within Othello's mind of Desdemona's fidelity.The play is littered with constant reference to Othello's race. Othello is constantly ostracised by other characters behind his back. Conversations between Roderigo and Iago often contain disdainful references to Othello's dark colouring. In an exchange between Roderigo and Iago in scene I, act I, Roderigo refers to Othello as "thick lips". Brabantio associates Othello with evil, and accuses him of corrupting Desdemona with "spells and medicines bought of mountebanks" (act I scene III) and describes their relationship "against all rules of nature". In another exchange between Roderigo and Iago in the play Iago associates Othello with the devil because of his colour. "Diablo, ho!" (act II scene III), and Emilia refers to Othello as the devil "And you the blacker devil!" (act V scene II) after the death of Desdemona. Desdemona's white skin means that other characters associate her with purity and heavenly goodness "O, she was heavenly true!" (act V, scene II). Othello himself links his colour with evil, and believes that perhaps because he is black, he can hate Desdemona "I'd whistle her off and let her down the wind to prey at fortune. Haply, for I am black and have not those soft parts of conversation that chamberers have" (act III scene III).Shakespeare intended the race of his characters to represent disorder and chaos and maybe to indicate to the Elizabethan world to look beyond a person's exterior as this can be deceiving. Desdemona possessed "whiter skin than snow and smooth as monumental alabaster" (act V scene II) and because of this was seen as a figure of beauty, innocence and "heavenly perfection" and was associated with heaven. Shakespeare used two common...

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