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Othello, The Collapse Of A Civilized Savage To A White Savage

1350 words - 6 pages

The play Othello by Shakespeare is set up in Venice, during the 1500s. At the time blacks were deemed and dehumanized due to their complexion. Non-westernized people were also seen as savages. Having one black character (Othello) in this story presupposes that there will be tension between Othello and a white male. Therefore, when Othello promotes Michael Cassio to lieutenant Iago becomes infuriated and filled with jealousy. Iago becomes enraged because he feels that he should have been the one to be promoted. He claims to have more experience in the field. He then strives to get rid of Cassio in hopes of attaining the position he desires in doing so he also manipulates Othello and fills his ...view middle of the document...

When Iago goes to Brabantio, in order to aware him that his daughter Desdemona has left his house and gone to sleep with Othello he proclaims:
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise,
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say! (1.1.86-89)
Iago comparison of Othello to a ram dehumanizes him and characterizes him as a brute animal. It also hyper sexualizes him. This installs fear in Desdemona’s father in making him believe that Othello is possibly just using her for the sex. He tells Brabantio that he needs to hurry or the devil will reproduce and make devil grandchild. In other words have black grandchildren. Iago choice of words demonstrates how black people were seen as people to scourge the earth and bring problems to Europeans. Even though Othello is westernized the mere fact that he is black deems him to be a devil, one to bring forth evil and corruption.
The term savagery is a term much similar to the term race, which is used on uncivilized people in order to uplift civilized people and distinguish oneself in order to feel superior. At the beginning of the play Othello is portrayed as a sane person. Othello first reveals his savagery when he is talking to Desdemona’s father and cites, For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used Their dearest action in the tented field (1.3.83-84). When Othello asserts that he knows of nothing other than war, he paints blacks as mere savages who are good for nothing but warfare. Because Othello is the only black character his actions are used to generalize blacks. They are pure strength lacking brains. While the white man has been one to lack the strength of a black man but been able to have more brains thus come out farther.
Which leads us to Iago, who infests Othello with the idea that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. His suspicion and insecurity leads him to become crazed and act as a savage. Shakespeare use of a black male having been westernized and then becoming easily fooled by a white male demonstrates that even though a black can be civilized deep down inside he is nothing more than a savage that can be easily fooled. Othello is easily manipulated to the point were he desires to kill his wife and himself. Othello states, “Her name, that was as fresh As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black As mine own face. If there be cords or knives, Poison, or fire, or suffocating streams, I’ll not endure it” (3.3.384-387). Othello, himself goes as far as acknowledging that she was way out of his league when he states her reputation is now as black as my face. He seemed to realize that he was inferior to...

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