Racism In Othello And Elizabethan Society

1374 words - 6 pages

William Shakespeare’s Othello, The Moor of Venice is a captivating tragedy that not only keeps the audience entertained by the drama and scandal, but also sheds new light on the perspective of the Europeans during the Elizabethan era and Othello’s role as an Englishman. Othello, based off of the controversial representation of blacks, was written in a manner that perfectly displays the true nature of the Europeans during this time period. Shakespeare opens the first act with Iago, the antagonist, yelling to Brabantio a visually graphic description of his “daughter covered with a Barbary horse” and racial inferences of Othello as “an old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe” ...view middle of the document...

This is just one of the few example of how during the Elizabethan era racism was a huge driving factor for most people, but what was the driving factor for the acceptance of a black general like Othello? Despite Othello’s background, all his people took pride in him, they trusted him, and truly believed that he had the purest intentions. Once race and the connection of interracial marriage becomes a factor between Othello and Desdemona, Othello starts to believe the racism towards him might be true. The Moor of Venice is true isolation not in terms of his social role but only in terms of race. He is the one Moor in Venice that everyone has their eyes on, not only as general but as a Moor in power. Iago, wants nothing more then to see Othello dead.
In modern Shakespeare the protagonist would be looked at as an immigrant to society, rather than Othello being looked at as an alien to the European society during the Elizabethan era based off his distinctive physical difference. When Brabantio is addressing his daughter in regards to marrying a black man he questions why she would, “Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom/ Of such a thing as thou-to fear, not to delight.” (I.2.70-71). At this point Brabantio has stripped any human qualities from Othello by calling him “thing.” Brabantio completely shames Othello the minute he finds out he married his daughter, taking no consideration for the tremendous sacrifices Othello has made for his people. Immediately we see the evil that comes out of the Venetian people when crossed, all legitimacy goes out the window when a European is crossed by a Moor, even one in rank. Throughout the play Othello himself uses the term black in reference to Moor’s, “Her name, that was as fresh/As Dian’s visage, is now begrime and black/ As mine own face” how Desdemona’s reputation was as pure and white as Dianna the goddess of the moon, but is not dirty and tainted like the color of his skin. (III.3.386-387). I also believe that this can be looked at in the context of Othello once including himself as part of the Venetian society, but now that Desdemona has forever ruined his reputation by making him a cuckhold he will never be up to the Venetian standards. She has tainted him for good.
Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘black’ about fifty times through out the play, was not only in the connotation of a person with dark skin, but because the audience is comfortable and understands the different meanings behind them depending on the context. Black magic was a huge controversy at the time; Othello even admits that he used magic on Desdemona to fall in love with him through the stories he told her. When the Duke is trying to persuade Brabantio into accepting his daughters marriage to Othello he reminds him, “And, noble signor,/If virtue no delighted beauty lack,/Your son-in-law is fairer than black” (I.3.288-290). In this context “fair” means “white” as well as...

Find Another Essay On Racism in Othello and Elizabethan Society

Racism in Othello Essay

1367 words - 5 pages 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

Racism in William Shakespeare's Othello Essay

1151 words - 5 pages Racism in William Shakespeare's Othello The play, Othello, is certainly, in part, the tragedy of racism. Examples of racism are common throughout the dialog. This racism is directed toward Othello, a brave soldier from Africa and currently supreme commander of the Venetian army. Nearly every character uses a racial slur to insult Othello at one point in the play. Even Emilia sinks to the level of insulting Othello based on the color of

Racism in Othello by Shakespear

1171 words - 5 pages Othello in Shakespeare's play is a black moor from North Africa surrounded by the white society of Venice. Many critics argue against racism in Othello although they believe it has got a racist theme. I think there are quite lots of proofs in the play which show that theme of racism is dominant and the problem of race should not be ignored. First, I will have a brief look at the meaning of black in the English society and the existence of racism

Venitian SOciety in Othello

859 words - 4 pages confronted with blatant racism throughout the play. The prevailing attitudes and beliefs of Venetian society towards Othello are exploited by Iago in order to manipulate Othello’s self confidence and emotional state. The fear of interracial marriage in Venetian society is used by Iago in an attempt to alienate Othello. Othello himself acknowledges the fact that interracial marriage is frowned upon and that racism still applies to him despite his

Racism in American Society

548 words - 2 pages In American society racism is still alive today. The racial conflict that still exists is a reflection of the racist attitudes of the people in American society. To help eliminate or reduce racism people must have an understanding of its root cause. Racism was first institutionalized in society to exploit African labor to preserve the power, privilege and wealth of the European Americans. To this day, racism survives because people still believe

Racism in society

1284 words - 5 pages of their basic human rights, dignity and respect Global change has to start small and travel abroad. If children are taught at an early age that it is ok to mock and stereotype others, when they become in the position to change policy concerning the offensive use of other cultures, is it any wonder why they don't see such use as racism and stereotyping? What I propose is that we look for the seeds of racism in dominant society and we destroy them

Racism in Our Society

1524 words - 6 pages in the awareness of how racism is manifest in society (D’Andrea & Daniels, 2007). Beady and Hansell (1981) assert that “the promise of school desegregation for reducing educational inequities has largely gone unfulfilled” (p. 191). The 30 years since this statement was made have done little to change the truth of it. There are three types of racism that are observable in our society: (a) individual, (b) cultural, and (c) institutional

Racism in Society

1854 words - 7 pages American Racism Society In Nathan McCall’s “Makes Me Wanna Holler,” he describes the difficulties he must face as a young black boy experiencing the slow, never-ending process of the integration of blacks and whites. Through this process, his autobiography serves as an excellent example of my theory on the formation and definition of racial identity; a theory which is based upon a combination of the claims which Stuart Hall and George

Different Reactions of a Modern and Elizabethan Audience to Othello

825 words - 3 pages . For a modern audience it is hard to apprehend the racism towards Othello and even harder to accept that this kind of cruelty towards blacks was an accepted expect of Elizabethan society What's more, a modern audience would most likely not be superstitious and rather than taking the witchcraft accusation seriously would call Brobantio `a silly old man', simply because advances in technology have proven that witchcraft does not exist and didn't

Racism in Othello by William Shakespeare

1021 words - 5 pages Firstly, Othello’s race and the racism around him ruined his marriage with Desdemona. 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

Exposing Racism In William Shakespeare’S Othello

2386 words - 10 pages Exposing Racism in William Shakespeare's OthelloThe infectious discrimination of Elizabethan racists is derived from fear unnatural a racist's hate plagues a vulnerable community of black slaves, with religion and war corrupting diverse cultures in the attempts to purify the existence of sin. This enlightening argument of what inspires William Shakespeare's to compose the play Othello contaminates romantic relationships, Before the integration

Similar Essays

Racism And Interracial Marriage In Othello

3724 words - 15 pages Racism and Interracial Marriage in Othello Othello: The Moor of Venice is probably Shakespeare's most controversial play. Throughout this work, there is a clear theme of racism, a racism that has become commonplace in Venetian society which rejects the marriage of Othello and Desdemona as anathema. The text expresses racism throughout the play within the language transaction of the dialogue to question the societal ethos established by

Gender Roles And Racism In Othello

1916 words - 8 pages Gender roles and racism play a big part in Shakespeare’s Othello. “Othello is unique among Shakespeare's great tragedies. Unlike Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, which are set against a backdrop of affairs of state and reverberate with suggestions of universal human concerns, Othello is set in a private world and focuses on the passions and personal lives of its major figures. Indeed, it has often been described as a "tragedy of character

Gender Roles And Racism In Othello

1863 words - 7 pages Gender roles and racism play a big part in Shakespeare’s Othello. “Othello is unique among Shakespeare's great tragedies. Unlike Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, which are set against a backdrop of affairs of state and reverberate with suggestions of universal human concerns, Othello is set in a private world and focuses on the passions and personal lives of its major figures. Indeed, it has often been described as a "tragedy of character

Feminism And Racism In Shakespeare's 'othello'

1450 words - 6 pages Othello is an extraordinary later work of Shakespeare's which, as an indication of true greatness and a testament to its literary worth, can be interpreted in many ways. Two such ways helping us to draw a deeper understanding of society and its values are to be found by making a feminist and racial reading.Studying the women in Othello one is able to gain an insight into their expected position according to the Elizabethan ethos. This is