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Gender Roles and Racism in Othello Essay

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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" (Locklear). Adding well-developed female characters to the play Othello creates a dimension of gender conflict and feminist views. The play’s behavior towards sexual differences as well as gender roles both solidifies Othello’s racist tones and complicates ethnic tensions.
Women played an important part in Othello, seeing as Desdemona was a part of the reason for Othello’s fall. “The chastity of a woman is highly values, and Desdemona’s perceived infidelity helps drive the action of the play ultimately leading to the deaths of many characters, including herself and Othello” (Evans). “Desdemona’s disobedience and willingness to disrupt the social order (by marrying outside her class, culture, and even race) are both edges of the sword that Iago uses, and therefore both must be discussed” (Peters, Dunlop and Relihan).
Desdemona remained subject to Othello all the way to her death, even covering for Othello by telling Emilia that she had killed herself, rather telling Emilia Othello had killed her. Desdemona was perfect to the effect that she was chaste and virtuous throughout the play. She also appeared intelligent and was even willing to stick up for herself and defend her love for Othello against her own father. However, in her relationship with Othello, she was passive and submiss...


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...racism through the racial slurs and making his main character, Othello, spiral downwards into the stereotypical moor.



Works Cited

Charlebois, Gaetan and Dena Smith. Canadia Theatre Encyclopedia. Coach House Press, 2010.
Evans, Ed. "Gender and Race in Othello." 2012. UNC. 27 2 2014 .
Harman, Marie. "Impact of Race in Othello ." 2013.
Kardon, Zane. "Racism in Othello." 2012.
Lagrange, Alastair. "Power in Relation to Class, Gender and Race in Othello." 2012.
Locklear, Scott. "Othello Introduction." 2014.
Peters, Jeri Lynn, et al. THE TROUBLE WITH GENDER IN OTHELLO: A BUTLERIAN READING OF . Thesis. Auburn: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. n.d.
Singh, Deepak. "Race and Gender in Othello." 2012. Literism. 8 March 2014 .



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