Racism is just one of the many problems that we have here in the United States today. Racism isn’t as bad as it used to be but it’s still here. In Othello, written by the one and only William Shakespeare, racism is the main theme and focus. England became involved in the slave trade during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Slights 377). Racism started in the twentieth century after this was written but the way the Elizabethan era viewed black people was similar to how racism is today (Bartels 433). Othello struggled a lot during the play because of his dark skin color. He was called several racist names like “the Moor,” “Old black ram,” “Barbary horse,” and “Thick lips.”
Othello was the black sheep crowded around a herd of white sheep. Racist comments were made by many of the characters like Iago, Brabantio, Roderigo, and Emilia. Iago got the trophy for the most used racial comments. Racism in Othello had a tremendous impact on Othello. Being the only black person in a mostly white ethnicity area influenced him in a bad way. He was judged by the color of his skin and not his personality. Othello’s race and the racism around him affected his life by ruining his marriage with Desdemona, alienating him from everybody in Venice, and by making him an easy target to be manipulated by Iago.
Firstly, Othello and Desdemona was a good couple, but you know what they say, all good things must come to an end. Almost everybody had a problem with their relationship. In that time, interracial relationships and marriage wasn’t allowed. While Brabantio was sleeping, Iago and Roderigo woke him up out of his sleep saying that Othello was having sex with his daughter Desdemona at that very moment. Brabantio didn’t believe them at first, but when he found out that they were telling the truth and his white daughter was with “the Moor” Othello, he didn’t take it lightly. He couldn’t believe that she would want to be with someone like Othello. He said that Othello must’ve used some type of magic to get Desdemona to fall in love with him. At that time it had to be a miracle for a black person to be with a white person, it was unheard of. Then he started calling Othello a Moor to his face and orders his guards to get him.
It’s obvious that mostly every character in Othello is racist. If the color of Othello’s skin was white, Othello and Desdemona would’ve lived happily ever after. Racism was shown in many ways in Act I of Othello. When Iago and Roderigo talked about Othello, they called him an “Old black ram,” and made a sex reference with Othello and Desdemona by saying that they were “making the beast with two backs.” “The Moor” is a reference to his black skin color, features, and represents the people from North Africa (Bartels 434). Most of the characters, including Desdemona called Othello a Moor.
Othello’s blackness, his marriage with Desdemona, and the murder of her are all three important structural elements of Othello and are all related (Little...