Othello Essay

1439 words - 6 pages

Title
Shakespeare's play Othello was written some time between 1600 and 1605. In a time
when ethnic minorities were so unimportant that they were almost ignored, a black man rises
and has a rank of a general in Venice, and is well respected and trusted by his white leaders.
However, when Othello marries Desdemona, a young and beautiful white girl, and the
daughter of Senator Brabantio, everything changes, and the racism in the play begins to take
place. Natural versus unnatural is one of the major themes in Shakespeare's play. What is
considered to be the most unnatural thing in the story is the marriage between Desdemona
and Othello, where the most obvious issue emphasises the topic of race. Throughout the whole
play, racism is certainly very present. Shakespeare tests his audience's racial prejudice
through the relationship of his Moorish character Othello to the true villain Iago, using
diction and metaphors throughout his various speeches.
Shakespeare uses many metaphors and diction to create a racist tone through certain
speeches. In the opening scene Othello is variously called "The Moor"(1.1.40), "the thick lips'
(1.1.61), 'black ram' (1.1.88) and finally, 'the devil' (1.1.91). In his speech, Iago says "an old
black ram / Is tupping your white ewe" (1.1.88). Here, Shakespeare plays on one of many
racist notions that black men have an animal-like, hyper sexuality. Later on, Iago calls Othello
the devil: "Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you" (1.1.9). Another racist slur
portraying the beliefs of the people in 16th century that the devil takes shape and form of a
black man. Iago knew what kind of racist Brabantio was, and he used his attitude toward the
idea of mixed marriage in order to rile the man against Othello. Shakespeare used animal
imagery and racist slurs with a purpose to bring out subconscious hate in the audience
towards black people.
Not everyone in the play feels the same way about Othello. The Senators and the Duke

admired Othello as an military leader who defended Venice. The Duke even defends him to
Brabantio, saying "your son-in-law is far more fair than black" (1.3.22). Even though the Duke
is talking positive about Othello, the racism is still there, considering Othello is being treated
as an exception to the rule. Even Brabantio loved Othello as long as he was only a military hero
defending Venice and has not yet been in a romantic relationship with his daughter. Othello
was tolerated and accepted as a general and a valuable fighter to Venice but as soon as he had
seized a white woman, everything changed.
Shakespeare does not portray skin color of his protagonist as a big issue or an
insecurity right from the start. Later on, towards the end, more and more of Othello's
insecurity is being revealed. Othello's sensitivity to the issue becomes clear when Iago uses it
as proof that Desdemona could not be faithful to a man so foreign:
But pardon me. I do not in position Distinctly speak of her, though I may fear Her will, recoiling to her better judgment May fall to match you with her country forms And happily repent. (III.3.29)
Shakespeare manipulates Othello into believing that Desdemona will eventually change her
mind or "repent"(3.3.29) of being with him, leaving Othello for a white man. Othello's self
confidence, once seemingly so strong, is very easlly eroded by Iago's ability to convince him
that he is inferior to the men of Venice: "Haply, for I am black / And have not those soft parts
of conversation / That chamberers have" (3.3.268). Iago is not only playing on Othello's fears
about his wife sexuality but also on the uncertainty about his status in the society as a black
Moor. Since all the manipulation is done through Iago, Shakespeare makes you question who
the true villain of the play is.
Iago is not only playing on Othello's fears about his wife sexuality, but also on Othello's fear
about his status as a black Moor.
Othello had a cruel past, being a slave, and even now being a general, he is still being

referred to as a black Moor and outsider to a very racist society of 16th century. As much as
he is trying to hide it at the beginning, towards the end his insecurity is more and more
obvious, which only allows Iago to manipulate him into believing about the affair, that much
faster. At first, Iago implies Desdemona's infidelity, Othello is attempting to dismiss Iago's
hints that he might have cause for jealousy "For she had eyes, and chose me"(3.3.189). But
when some more of Iago's "pestilence is being poured into his ear"(2.3.265), Othello does not
disagree with any of Iago's saying even though he has no prove of it and starts believing the
fact that Desdemona is doomed to cheat on him because of his skin colour: "My name, that was
as fresh/ As Dian's visage is now begrimed and black/ As mine own face"(3.3.54). At this
moment in the play Othello seems to have internalized the racist ideologies of other
character. He sees himself as a solid black man, who could never be loved by an innocent
white women. It is because Othello's own insecurities, why he can believe Iago's stories and
falls for his plan. Deep down he himself doubts Desdemona's love and loyalty.
In Elizabethan England, when Shakespeare wrote his play Othello, people belief that
the ethnic origins of an individual affected ones behaviour and personality was very strong.
The language that Shakespeare uses to describe or insult Othello was very familiar with the
audience at the time. In his play, Shakespeare is merely reflecting the racial views of his
audience. Shakespeare is reflecting the behaviour towards black people from the society in
england in 17th century. Despite all the racist slurs and other literary devices(animal
imagery, metaphors) that Shakespeare used to describe Othello, the play itself is not racist.
He was challenging the racist ideas. the audience was at first shocked and terrified with the
interracial marriage, but throughout the play they were able to recognize the true
villain-Iago, being a white man. Apart from that the love that Desdemona had for Othello
remained till the very end. Another racist idea that Shakespeare messes up. A white woman
who is able unconditionally to love a black man. Even though Shakespeare does end the play
as expected, therefore the black Moor kills the white, pure and innocent woman, the real

reason for her death Shakespeare portrays somewhere else; in manipulative workings of a
white man. In Othello the true villain is caucasian man, therefore Shakespeare challenges
society's point of view about black people and makes them consider that bad intentions and
evilness can come from a white man as well.

RELATED

Othello Vs. O Essay

1222 words - 5 pages Othello vs. OAlthough we may not hear about every murder that happens in a day, hundreds of homicides take place in twenty four hours. In today's time, it is not uncommon to hear of some crazy guy who killed his girlfriend for whatever reason and then killed himself from the heartache. As people read things such as Shakespeare's Othello, they make comments about the tragic deaths that many of his characters experience. But in reality, our world

"Othello" By Shakespeare Essay

1144 words - 5 pages 2. Discuss the techniques Iago used to manipulate othersThrough out the play of Othello Iago used many techniques to get what he wantedand one way or another he some how all most always got what he wanted. His techniqueswere that of an everyday sneaky, conniving bad guy, who always got people to trust him,except the person that was closest to him. But the main overall techniques he used were;1)He gained the trust of people. Which was the number

Othello Act 5: Talking abut deception and manipulation - Othello - Presentation

425 words - 2 pages Free Summary: Scene i: At Iago's insistence, Roderigo attacks Cassio, but fails, and Cassio wounds him instead. Iago sees this, and having little choice, stabs Cassio's leg from behind and runs away. Othello, thinking that Cassio is dead, goes to kill Desdemona. Lodovico and Gratiano hear Cassio's cry for help but are afraid of what might happen to them if they go to him. Iago appears, looking as if he has come from bed, and goes to Cassio. Roderigo

Shakespeare Characteristics - Othello - English - Essay

471 words - 2 pages Othello - Desdemona Desdemona plays an important role in Shakespeare’s novel, Othello. In terms of characteristics, Desdemona is a very caring, helpful and honest person. Comment by Elizabeth Kamnik: Good clear thesis stating 3 characteristics! :) First off, Desdemona is a very caring character. For example, she’s always worried about her husband’s well being. On p.65, Othello was not acting like himself, so Desdemona asked what was wrong. When

Jealousy in "Othello" by William Shakespere

471 words - 2 pages In "Othello", jealousy is what appears to destroy him. Othello takes the word of an alleged trusted man, that his new bride has deceived him. Betrayal and manipulation lie at the heart of Othello and the jealousy destroys them all.This powerful destructive emotion was first suggested by Othello's trusted friend "Iago the Honest" when he says, "O beware jealousy; / It is the green ey'd monster, which doth mock / That meat it feeds on" (III.3, 169

Messages and symbols in othello - English - Essay

909 words - 4 pages Ibrahim​ ​Khan 11/29/2017 Grade​ ​11 Ms.​ ​Wilson University​ ​English Appearances​ ​are​ ​used​ ​to​ ​deceive​ ​throughout​ ​all​ ​of​ ​​Othello,​ ​​they​ ​show​ ​the​ ​characters appearances​ ​and​ ​how​ ​other​ ​characters​ ​perceive​ ​one​ ​another​ ​and​ ​this​ ​occurs​ ​threw​ ​race, gender​ ​representations​ ​and​ ​social​ ​status ​ ​Othello​ ​was​ ​profiled​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​play​ ​because​ ​of​ ​his​ ​appearance​ ​as​ ​a

The Theme Of Evil In Shakespeare's Othello

2308 words - 10 pages Just what is "evil" in Shakespeare's play? Iagos will for "revenge" on Cassio, who has been promoted to a higher army rank than himself? Is Iago evil? Essentially, Iago could be described as the central trouble-making, ill-willed character of the play; he leads a lot of the characters into a state of confusion, convincing them to think poorly and wrong of other figures in 'Othello' that are in fact innocent of their accused crimes.But does this

"Angels, Men, And Devils" In Shakespeare's Othello

823 words - 4 pages In William Shakespeare's Othello, the character Emilia suggests that the other characters of the play represent "heaven and men and devils," loosely setting up the format of the entire work, and summed up clearly in the final scene. There are characters that distinctly represent each of these realms, as well as some that seem to have characteristics from two of the areas. Desdemona is the character most closely associated with heaven as is

othello essay story about othello and my opinion on what happened - english - essay

690 words - 3 pages Faith Guthrie Blmhs English 3H Prompt: Appearances Can Be Deceiving via Othello The weary theme of “Deceiving Appearances” is used profusely throughout the Shakespearean play named Othello; as well as the theme of forbidden love, and many others throughout the play. The theme of perception vs. deception (the deceiving appearance) is mostly seen through Othello’s main antagonists Iago who is portrayed as “honest Iago” Othello’s trusted servant as

Othello - Comparative Study Of Original Text And Oliver Parker's Film 'Othello' Text 1: Othello By William Shakespeare Text 2: Film Othello Directed By Oliver Parker (Adaptation Of Shakespear...

957 words - 4 pages William Shakespeare's Othello is an Aristotelian tragedy that dramatises the gradual demise of the eponymous protagonist. Shakespeare employs a multiplicity of literary techniques to convey universal ideas exemplified throughout the course of Othello's decline. However, Oliver Parker reinvigorates the play's timeless ideas in a cinematic medium, sexualising the play for modern sensibilities. Parker utilises visual motifs and cinematic devices to

Othello - Evil Characteristics & Nature of Mankind - AP Literature - Essay

447 words - 2 pages Free Pham 1 Othello In ​Othello,​ Iago’s characterization of his deception and villainous state shows the nature of mankind. To show the nature of villainy in ​Othello,​ Shakespeare writes to Iago’s manipulation and exploitation of Othello’s otherness. To get revenge on Othello for not promoting him to the lieutenant position, Iago manipulates Othello. He manipulates Othello by deceiving him of his relationship with Desdemona. He starts off by

Honesty in Othello by William Empson summary - year 12 - Summary

403 words - 2 pages Honesty in othello by william Empson · Othello uses the word honest and honesty 52 times throughout the play, no other Shakespeare play expresses a word that much, with a exception of king lear which has many uses of the word fool but doesn’t have the same puzzling deeper meaning. · Othello himself has been called honest an obsessive amount of times, Othello howls out the word at a crucial moment before Emilia exposes Iago. · Iago through

Geofferrey Sax's film adaptation of Othello - Grade 10 - Essay

429 words - 2 pages Shakespeare’s Othello was composed in the 15th century whereas Geoffrey Sax’s film adaptation of Othello is set out in the 21st century. Although the two narrations are centuries apart, Sax could successfully sculpt and exemplify the themes of gender inequality and racism to suit the modern audience. Gender discrimination was very vivid in Shakespeare’s play. Desdemona was getting married to Othello without her father’s consent and Iago

Othello Critical Analysis of Act I, Scene III

587 words - 3 pages "Most potent, grave and reverend signiors…..He wrought upon her."This quote form Othello is a speech given to the senators in the court room. Othello begins by addressing them as "Most potent, grave and reverend signiors." This is a sign of respect and he wishes to explain the situation clearly. Othello admits openly that he has married Desdemona. "That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter." Instead of trying to deny or hide it

Essay On Iago's Soliquy In Shakespeare's Play "Othello"

869 words - 4 pages shows the raging evil within Iago. Up to this point in the play, Iago has had a racist attitude, always insulting Othello. His racism is seen through him calling Othello "the Moor" in the soliloquy instead of his actual name. Iago uses the term "blackest sin" metaphorically to mean the worst sin possible, confirming his racist prejudice towards dark-skinned people, especially Othello. Not only is Iago racist to Othello, but also wishes to cause