Preview
Preview

Othello: Racism Essay examples

:: 2 Works Cited
Length: 1897 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Othello: Racism  

 
   Just how serious is the problem of racial prejudice in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello? Is it pervasive or incidental? This essay intends to answer questions on this subject.

Blanche Coles in Shakespeare’s Four Giants maintains that the racial discrimination in the play may be overstated by critics:

In the first scene, Roderigo has referred to Othello as “thick lips.” No other character in the play attributes any such negroid features to Othello, and it should be remembered that Roderigo has a half-insane prejudice against and hatred for Othello. Brabantio refers to his “sooty bosom,” but may he not have meant his hairy chest? Some rather fair men have black hair on their chests. The word “sooty” seems to apply more aptly to this interpretation than it does to a mere black body. All other characters refer to Othello respectfully as “the Moor” or “the valiant Moor.” (80)

In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his dislike, or rather hatred, for the general Othello for his having chosen Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello. Roderigo shares Iago’s prejudiced attitude toward Othello: “What a full fortune does the thicklips owe / If he can carry't thus!” The word thicklips is a disparaging reference to a facial characteristic of many members of the dark-skinned race. When, by loud shouting, Brabantio is awakened, Iago commences with a series of racial epithets:

Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on

     your gown;

     Your heart is burst, you have lo...


... middle of paper ...


...e.

 EMILIA. Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil! (5.2)

 
Following Iago’s murder of Emilia, he is captured; Lodovico addresses Othello, who is so dejected at having been deceived by his ancient:


     O thou Othello, thou wert once so good,

     Fall'n in the practise of a damned slave,

     What shall be said to thee? (5.2)

 
Needless to say, damned slave has racial overtones. Shortly thereafter, the hero, in remorse for the tragic mistake he has made, stabs himself and dies on the bed next to his wife, his sorrow being as deep as his love.
 

WORKS CITED

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.

Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare’s Four Giants. Rindge, New Hampshire: Richard Smith Publisher, 1957.

 


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Gender Roles and Racism in Othello Essay - 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....   [tags: Othello Essays]
:: 8 Works Cited
1505 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Othello – Racism Expressed in Words Essay - Othello –  Racism Expressed in Words         The Bard of Avon’s tragic play Othello expresses racism; there is no doubt about this among most critics. However, to what degree – to a vulgar extent. Or to an excusable level.   In her book, Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies, Maynard Mack comments on the audience’s reaction to the black-white union in the play:   That a beautiful Venetian girl should fall in love with “a veritable negro” seemed to many implausible, in fact “monstrous.” The words are Coleridge’s, but the sentiment was widely shared and, on the nineteenth-century stage, was increasingly taken into account by “orientalizing” the hero, making hi...   [tags: Othello essays]
:: 7 Works Cited
1956 words
(5.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Othello: Racism Essay examples - Othello: Racism        Just how serious is the problem of racial prejudice in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. Is it pervasive or incidental. This essay intends to answer questions on this subject. Blanche Coles in Shakespeare’s Four Giants maintains that the racial discrimination in the play may be overstated by critics: In the first scene, Roderigo has referred to Othello as “thick lips.” No other character in the play attributes any such negroid features to Othello, and it should be remembered that Roderigo has a half-insane prejudice against and hatred for Othello....   [tags: Othello essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1897 words
(5.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Racism in Othello Essays - The Racism in Othello         Throughout the duration of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, there is a steady stream of racism. It is originating from not one, but rather several characters in the play. In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his dislike, rather hatred, for the general Othello for his having chosen Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello....   [tags: Othello essays Shakespeare]
:: 1 Works Cited
1765 words
(5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Exposing Racism in William Shakespeare’s Othello Essay - The 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 of black-skinned people into Elizabethan culture, Christian ideology coalesce Satan’s appearance with babies born black, with such manifestations supported by centuries of anecdotal evidence....   [tags: Othello]
:: 7 Works Cited
2050 words
(5.9 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Racism and Cultural Differences Exposed in Othello Essay examples - Othello, from the onset, is shown to us a play of love and jealousy. There is however more to this play than just love and jealousy; there is underlying racism, hate, deception, pride, and even sexism between these pages. Othello is a transcendent play, one that will survive the perils of time simply because it is still relevant. Even today, over 400 years later, there are still issues of racism and sexism. Hate is as natural as love in humans and Othello gets right to the root of that. We witness this from the very first scene, “…you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse/ you’ll have your nephews neigh to you” (I.i.112-14); to the very last, “Moor she was chaste....   [tags: Othello Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1328 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Racism and Interracial Marriage in Othello - 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 Othello, thereby making him nothing less than a cultural "other." Furthermore, the character of Desdemona is displayed as mad, or out of her wits, for marrying such an "other," and the audience sees her slip from an angelic state of purity to that of a tai...   [tags: Othello essays]
:: 8 Works Cited
3668 words
(10.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Racism and Jealousy in Othello Essay - Racism and Jealousy in Othello The theme of racism is strongly depicted in William Shakespeare's Othello. It depicts the attitude of European society towards those that were different in colour, race and language. In Europe, people of white complexion were the majority and all other races were considered to be less important and inferior.      There are several characters in this play that portray this mentality. These characters include Brabantio, Roderigo and Emilia. But by far, the face of racism in this play is that of Iago, who makes his intentions crystal clear in his soliloquy where he states I hate the Moor, (I, iii, 379)....   [tags: Shakespeare Othello Iago Essays] 771 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about Racism in William Shakespeare's Othello - 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 his skin. The character that most commonly makes racist remarks in Othello is Iago....   [tags: Othello essays Shakespeare]
:: 1 Works Cited
1065 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Racism in William Shakespeare’s Othello Essay - Racism in William Shakespeare’s Othello   In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Othello racism is featured throughout, not only by Iago in his despicable animalistic remarks about Othello’s marriage, but also by other characters. Let us in this essay analyze the racial references and their degrees of implicit racism. Racism persists from the opening scene till the closing scene in this play. In “Historical Differences: Misogyny and Othello” Valerie Wayne comments on the racism inherent in the final act of the drama: When Othello finally kills himself and says he is killing the ‘turbaned Turk’ who ‘beat a Venetian and traduced the state’ (V, ii, 349-50), he is killing the monster he became...   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Othello]
:: 6 Works Cited
2605 words
(7.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]