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Venitian S Ociety In Othello Essay

859 words - 4 pages

Othello by William Shakespeare raises the issue of how rampant beliefs and attitudes in a society can cause a person to question their sense of self. In a society where racial equality is near non-existent, Othello, a black skinned foreigner in the Venetian society, is constantly reminded of his status as an outsider. Othello, however, is not depicted in a stereotypical manner and despite occupying a highly respected position he is often 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 ...view middle of the document...

In an effort to convince Brabantio that Othello is sleeping with Desdemona, Iago persistently uses the imagery of Othello being inhuman and animalistic to his advantage, referring to Othello as an “an old black ram” in order to pull the racial strings of Brabantio. Iago continues to press Brabantio with the idea that his pure white daughter is “making the beast with two backs” with “a Barbary horse” (1.1.110-117), calling on the ideas of black men being barbarians and savages. The intense provocations of Iago cause Brabantio to express his true feelings towards Othello claiming that it unnatural for his daughter to love Othello. However unscathed Othello appears towards the harsh terms used to describe him; the extent of how deeply influenced Othello is by the society he lives in becomes apparent as Iago slowly takes advantage of the social mindset of the time to ruin Othello’s marriage, honor, and sense of self.
In a culmination of the racist ideologies present in the Venetian society, of which Othello has been exposed to in his life, Iago effectively provokes Othello to question his self worth and Desdemona’s faithfulness to him. Iago picks on Othello’s deeply rooted fears of being unworthy of Desdemona by suggesting something is “unnatural” about Desdemona choosing Othello over men “of her own clime, complexion, and degree” (3.3.228-235). During this conversation Othello never objects to Iago’s claims but rather appears to be submissive to the ideas being presented. After years of living in this society, Othello has internalized the racist attitudes...

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