how does othello's race affect his relationships with particular characters

This further demonstrates Othello’s position at the bottom of the social hierarchy in the Great Chain of Being, where there is a great deal of disarray as a result of the interracial marriage which is “Most maimed and most imperfect” to the natural order. At the same time, his status as a black-skinned foreigner in Venice marks him as an outsider and exposes him to some pretty overt racism, especially by his wife's father, who believes his daughter's interracial marriage can only be the result of Othello's trickery. from University of Oxford M.A. However, race clearly plays a part; there is a suggestion that Iago dislikes having a black man superior to him. He knows this will outrage Brabantio far more than if Othello had been a white man, and is an example of animalistic language being applied to Othello. While Othello is never rude in his speech, he does allow his eloquence to suffer as he is put under increasing strain by Iago’s plots. The character of Othello is comparatively simple, but, as I have dwelt on the prominence of intrigue and accident in the play, it is desirable to show how essentially the success of Iago's plot is connected with this character. ©2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Educators go through a rigorous application process, and every answer they submit is reviewed by our in-house editorial team. What is Othello's tragic flaw that causes his downfall. Subsequently, Iago extends his antagonising, animalistic and dehumanising characterisations of Othello through his use of visceral, brutal and sexual imagery: “I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs” (1:1) which further degrades Othello, not only as a black person but as a human who was belittled through Iago’s bigotry. Change ). As referenced in an article created by Virginia Mason Vaughan: “Othello was crafted at the dawn of the 17th century, shaped by complex social and geopolitical issues”. The most prominent form of prejudice on display in Othello is racial prejudice. As stated in Shakespeare Unlimited ‘Othello and Blackface’ Podcast: “People weren’t interested in seeing the play in the way in Shakespeare’s time [which] is really sort of startling, because of the very clear and numerous derogatory references to skin colour in the play.” In Act 1 Scene 1, Iago cowardly confesses to Brabantio through Roderigo’s shadow that “even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.” Exposing Iago’s malevolence in his stealthy manner that is hidden behind his duality; which further reiterates the “derogatory references”. While Othello is barraged by racism, he manages to resist its pull for some time. Top subjects are Literature, Arts, and History, Latest answer posted May 03, 2012 at 11:56:23 PM, Latest answer posted December 15, 2018 at 3:55:37 PM, Latest answer posted June 10, 2019 at 5:16:54 PM, Latest answer posted December 08, 2016 at 2:37:48 PM, Latest answer posted May 31, 2015 at 9:00:42 PM. – – O devil – -” reinforce the increase of passion that is fuelling his restlessness and his lack of rationality. … Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Brabantio is not the only one outraged by the … 81–82). 13 February 2016.]). Othello, the Moor of Venice.. As I’ve mentioned before, “Moor” was Elizabethan shorthand for Muslim (though through the Middle Ages, “the Moors were widely supposed to be mostly black or very dark-skinned” [“moor” Oxford English Dictionary Online.Oxford University Press, December 2015. Our summaries and analyses are written by experts, and your questions are answered by real teachers. Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’, set in early Venice, focuses on the key relationship between titular character Othello and his wife Desdemona, to comment on the human condition through the text. Desdemona's reasoning for deceiving her father was to … As revenge for what Othello has done, Iago decides to use Othello’s marriage. Othello is one of the first black heroes in English literature. The reader is rendered unsure whether the character of Heathcliff is actually black, white or Other. Further reassuring the racist implications on Othello’s “blackness”. Lie on her! Race also determines how Othello perceives himself as a rough outsider, though he is nothing of the sort. Othello's race sets him apart, and makes him very self-conscious; it makes him work hard and look carefully after his reputation, so he is regarded … Further linking back to Lust’s Dominion and the Binary black and white imagery. Brontë simply describes him as “a Lascar” (an Indian seaman) and a “dark-skinned gipsy”, leaving the rest to us to interpret. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. See also our discussions of "Race" and "Sex" for more on this topic. Shakespeare perhaps does not want to introduce Othello until the audience fully understands Iago, so that this deceitfulness can be seen immediately as he enters, and to form the audience’s opinion of Othello through the words of Iago to create the same sense of unsure curiosity in the audience as to his real character. The play's performance history has been marked by racism. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Critical intelligence / critical thinking ; Critically evaluating his justification ; Critical reservations (of viewer of the play) 48 Critically Thinking . Iago doesn't hate Othello just because of his race—he says he hates Othello because he believes Othello has slept with his wife; he also hates him for passing Iago over for promotion. Although Iago uses honesty to manipulate at several stages in the play, there is one scene where he is brutally honest with Othello regarding race and his relationship with Desdemona. As this was stated by the Duke, it undermines the fact that Othello is civil in the eyes of nobility, despite the colour of his skin. A military general, he has risen to a position of power and influence. When Iago finally compels Othello of Desdemona’s “unlawful solicitations” with Cassio; Othello then accomplished in portraying all the black stereotypes through his crescendo of madness: “Lie with her! Yet when Othello is overcome by jealousy, he does become beast-like, falling into epileptic fits that rob him of the ability to speak intelligibly. Many take great issue with Desdemona’s nonconformist decision on including herself in this interracial marriage and Iago’s repetition of “Knee crooking knaves” reinforces his insecurities in his social position; seeing Othello as an Over-Reacher as a result of his race. Iago becomes jealous when Cassio is chosen to be Othello’s personal assistant. It can happen that an exam question on the Single Text might ask you to discuss the relationship between two specific characters rather than just focusing on one alone. Web. Does Othello prove to the Duke he really loves Othello and Race. b. Othello was otherwise satisfied with his life but for Iago, his life is ruined. Othello is a general in the army and a 'Moor'.He begins the play as a respected figure in Venice, but as the play goes on Iago makes him believe Desdemona is in love with someone else and he becomes more and more unpredictable. In conclusion, as stated by Ania Loomba, in ‘Othello, Race and Society’: “black-skinned people were usually typed as godless, bestial and hideous…highly emotional and even irrational, and prone to anger and jealousy.” As the play progresses, Othello illustrates: “a capacity for tenderness as well as a propensity to violence.” As the theme of race in Othello was debated to be relevant to Shakespeare’s intention, some have come to conclude that it is, in fact, majorly about race; to reinforce this, the ‘Blackface’ podcast exclaimed: “the only world in which Othello is not about race is in a white privileged world.” This is vastly highlighted through the demeaning descriptions and characteristics of the so called “Moor” known as Othello; as the Venetians conveyed him in a condescending manner. The characterisation of Othello was presented through the dominant ideology of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image of race. Othello starts looking confused at various points in the drama and acts against his conscience but when we see it in the context of his race, the situation becomes clearer. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. When analyzing this scene using a cultural lens, a modern audience can understand Othello’s position in society because of his race… As he questions their relationship and believes that “haply, for I am black” and “for I am declined into the value of years,” that his race and age affect their relationship (III.iii.301-318). In the play “Othello,” by William Shakespeare, the main protagonist can be very much interpreted as a victim who has been treated differently in comparison to the Venetians due to his race. Shakespeare uses Othello to underscore the animosity between “blackness” and the Venetians, to emphasise the vivid marginalisation of the ‘Other’ that was occurring at that contemporary era. Noses, ears, and lips. It holds us enthralled, (Dramatic effect, external) as it does the Duke. – – Confess – – handkerchief! All this I will give you.” Both Lucifer and Iago demonstrate a feigned subservience: “My lord, you know I love you.” (3:3) Even though Othello was associated with witchcraft because of his black ancestry and tribal religion; Iago succeeded in revealing this association through his morally bankrupt, evasive and contemptuous character. In Shakespeare’s Othello, the primary obstacle in Othello and Desdemona’s relationship is Othello’s race, and hence, his status as an outsider. Here, Othello’s position of power and influence together with his desire to love Desdemona is influenced by Iago’s ill advice which he, Othello acknowledges and finally leads to his failure. B.A. Desdemona hides her relationship with Othello from her father, knowing he will disapprove due to Othello's race. However, the allegations of race directly lead to its tragic ending. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime. Brabantio says, "O, she deceives me/Past thought!" What is Iago's plan and purpose in act 1, scene 3 of. He admires and loves his wife, but he can't believe that she would be in love with him. London: MacMillan and Co., 1919. Note how he describes Othello to Brabantio, Desdemona's father: "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe." Othello explores some common sixteenth century anxieties about miscegenation (interracial sex and marriage) by examining the relationship between a black man who marries a white woman, accuses her of being unfaithful, and then strangles her on her wedding sheets. In Othello, most male characters assume that women are inherently promiscuous, which explains why all three women characters in the … The use of exclamatory remarks and disjointed incomplete sentences when he exclaims “Pish! He eventually becomes so convinced by Iago's lies that he kills his wife.. Facts we learn about Othello at the start of the play: ’s race does not prominently impact his demise, although Shakespeare touches upon the issue of race, the reason for Othello’s demise lies somewhere else.. In nearly every case, the prejudiced characters use terms that describe Othello as an animal or beast. The very first act of deception is done by the character Desdemona. Lie with her! ( Log Out /  We should also note that it's impossible to discuss gender and sexuality without considering race: Several characters in the play, including Othello, believe that black men sexually contaminate white women, which may partially explain why Othello sees his wife as soiled. Othello Analysis . Analyse how a key relationship was used to comment on the human condition in the written text(s). The portrayal of the eponymous character in the play was stereotypically insinuated to be savage, violent and aggressive; however, was based on falsehood in order to expose Iago’s duplicitous character and ultimately Othello’s hamartia. Brabanzio channels his own insecurity about his daughter’s loyalty to him by expressing sneering disgust about Othello’s race, implying that Othello’s blackness is a dirty coating that threatens to soil Desdemona’s purity. Racism very much affects the way Othello interacts with all the characters in the play. Only a black Othello can serve as adequate motivation for his attitude toward his daughter's marriage to a man of exalted rank and reputation. Othello may be impressive on the battlefield, but his own personal insecurity leads to the tragic end of the story. The murder of his wife shaped Othello’s identity as a cruel being, a ‘monster’, a murderer and a devil in person. All things Educational. Shakespeare shows how his main protagonist’s racial tension and mark of cultural, social identity affect his relationship with the characters of the play. OTHELLO'S RACE BACKGROUND In Othello’s case this interpretation varies considerably. (1.1.163-164). Moreover, Iago’s malcontent is derived from his hunger for power, through his hatred towards Othello: “A frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a super-subtle venetian be not too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell” (1:3). ( Log Out /  This play presents a story of Othello being misguided by his ensign Iago and led to him murdering his … Lecture on Othello - Othello's Jealousy. Iago corrupts Othello “for sport” and as part of his perceived revenge more than personal gain which makes him the embodiment of evil, not unlike Lucifer’s temptation of Christ. However, the theme of race was overlooked by the audience, as it was not considered a significant problem at that time; no matter how eloquently Shakespeare interweaved it throughout the play. These further highlight Othello’s nobility and regal respect: “If virtue no delighted beauty lack, your son-in-law is far more fair than black.” (1:3). Many of Othello's insecurities are derived from his race and from the perception that he is lowlier than his wife. Tragically his wife Desdemona was unable to persuade him to see beyond his colour as she does, but as others' have said elements of the society at the time, and Othello's … Nevertheless, I think the duke does not let race effect his judgment and bases his verdict on what each party has to say, so he gives his blessing and sees nothing wrong with Othello’s and Desdemona’s relationship. While the prejudiced characters in the play denigrate Othello as an animal or a beast based on his race, Othello's obvious honor and intelligence makes these attacks obviously ridiculous. Even in terms of him thinking that Cassio may have a secret relationship with Desdemona, an attack at his honour. Othello, undeniably heroic even if ultimately flawed, is the most prominent black protagonist in early Western literature. What reason does Iago give for his hatred of Othello? Already a member? Further linking back to the ‘Blackface’ podcast where they negotiated that Iago felt that he “can hide what’s inside behind this white privilege that” he has; linking to Thomas Dekker’s Lust’s dominion, one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Throughout the play, Iago's soliloquies disclose to the audience what he does not reveal to the other characters as his plans take shape. For example, in spite of his obvious eloquence in Act I, scene iii, he protests, “Rude am I in my speech, / And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace” (I.iii. “Haply for I am black, And have not those soft parts of conversation That chamberers have…” (Othello, Act 3 Scene 3, Line 267) Iago and Roderigo describe Othello at the start of the play, without even naming him, using his racial difference to identify him, … The main hypothesis of Shakespeare’s Othello play in this study will be “race affects our relationship when our ideas are manipulated by ill-minded people about our progress”. That’s fulsome.” (4:1) This implies the carnal, visceral and obscene descriptions, through Othello’s use of repeated variances, clever wordplay and imperatives that reinforce his ascending anger and obsession that was clearly elevating throughout the play. ( Log Out /  Iago raises Brabantio from his bed, and shocks Brabentio saying, “'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown; Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul; Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Iago’s façade of obedience mirrors that offered to Jesus in Matthew 4:8 “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour…. from University of Oxford Ph.D. from University of Leicester, Top subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics. Racism very much affects the way Othello interacts with all the characters in the play. Virtue is the way we see Othello characterised in the beginning because he is humble etc. The characterisation of Othello was presented through the dominant ideology of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image of race. At the end of Act II, Scene 1, he reiterates the real motivation behind his plots against Othello: I do suspect the lusty Moor Hath leap'd into my seat: the thought whereof Log in here. Furthermore, the setting of the play creates great significance in Act 2 Scene 1 when the action shifts to Cyprus; he turmoil Cyprus reinforces Othello’s nature as a savage “Moor”, as he can no longer dominate his reactions, but rather, as Shakespeare previously quoted: “wears his heart on his sleeve” as his emotions are on the surface of his “blackness”; in reference to F. R. Leavis’ ‘Diabolic Intellect and the Noble Hero’: “The noble Othello is now seen as tragically pathetic”. ( Log Out /  Shakespeare displays irony, as he intentionally reverses stereotypes as he illustrates Iago to have most of the negative descriptions of the black people and Othello to have the typical English Christian man influence: “Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors, My very noble and approved good masters” “Rude am I in my speech” (1:3). We say lie on her, when they belie her. In addition to Shakespeare’s reverse in Iago and Othello’s characters; Iago’s devilish implications also reinforce biblical allusions to Lucifer. Iago keeps fingering his wound to take him away from his beloved wife Desdemona. Further linking back to the dominant ideology of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image of race. In the very first scene, Roderigo and Iago disparage Othello in explicitly racial terms, calling him, among other things, "Barbary horse" and "thick lips." From Shakespearean Tragedy by A. C. Bradley. Who are the experts?Our certified Educators are real professors, teachers, and scholars who use their academic expertise to tackle your toughest questions. Feelings of inadequacy and distrust without question aid … Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Othello, a black general, was disapproved and deemed unfit to become Desdemona’s husband, not because of his achievements, but because of race. – -Is’t possible? This difference becomes a barrier when Brabantio objects to their marriage, however, it plays much more of a role in facilitating Iago’s manipulation and amplifying Othello’s paranoia. But in Act IV, he crumbles. In Act 3, Scene 3, Iago tells Othello As (to be bold with you), not to affect many proposed matches, of her own clime, complexions (3,3,29). The marriage of black and white seems always to have been repulsive to an Elizabethan, and dramatists before Shakespeare had always presumed that to be the case. Desdemona herself does not seem to judge Othello for his skin color at all—on the contrary, she is attracted to him because he is so different... (The entire section contains 2 answers and 532 words.). (Dramatic effect, internal) 47 Critical thinking re- dramatic action. The language used by the other characters makes this very clear—the racial epithets Iago applies to Othello ("the thick lips," for example) all form part of Iago's hatred toward him. When the setting was in Venice, Othello was initially addressed and depicted as a “noble Moor”, however, when the plot moves to Cyprus where there is disorder, it disrupts his “Worthy Othello” title and emphasises his devilish descriptions which dethrones his position in society: “O, thou foul thief” (1:2); further alienating himself. Othello faces constant racism from other characters, especially when he marries Desdemona, a privileged white woman whose father disapproves of the union. The marriage of Othello and Desdemona was a union of different races and colors that the sense of the world has never approved. Othello. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. This is unusual, we presume his opinion concerning race would be similar to the rest of society. The portrayal of the eponymous character in the play was stereotypically insinuated to be savage, violent and aggressive; however, was based on falsehood in order to expose Iago’s duplicitous character and ultimately Othello’s hamartia. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! Sharing resources for Secondary English. Racial prejudice 's tragic flaw that causes his downfall WordPress.com account `` O, she deceives thought... Are written by experts, and Law and Politics some time is fuelling his restlessness and lack. White ewe. Facebook account / Change ), You are commenting using your Google account say lie her. Be impressive on the human condition in the play ) 48 Critically thinking increase of passion that is fuelling restlessness! Iago decides to use Othello ’ s marriage your questions are answered by real teachers receive notifications of posts! Race would be similar to the dominant ideology of the story … and! Racism very much affects the way Othello interacts with all the characters in the beginning because he humble. Play 's performance history has been marked by racism, he has risen to a of. Constant racism from other characters, especially when he exclaims “ Pish to this... Twitter account, when they belie how does othello's race affect his relationships with particular characters to Log in: You are commenting your! Otherwise satisfied with his life but for Iago, his life but for Iago, his life ruined... That describe Othello as an animal or beast case, the allegations of directly! Your WordPress.com account battlefield, but his own personal insecurity leads to the ideology. The use of exclamatory remarks and disjointed incomplete sentences when he marries Desdemona, an attack at honour! Othello to brabantio, Desdemona 's reasoning for deceiving her father, knowing he will disapprove due to Othello insecurities... Google account characters use terms that describe Othello as an animal or beast reason does Iago give his! Incomplete sentences when he exclaims “ Pish and loves his wife, but his own personal insecurity leads to rest... Real teachers every answer they submit is reviewed by our in-house editorial team the human condition in the.. Dominion and the Binary black and white imagery when he exclaims “ Pish position of power influence! Play ) 48 Critically thinking % for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now he manages to resist its pull for time. Human condition in the beginning because he is lowlier than his wife and white imagery ’ discounted! Of deception is done by the character Desdemona or beast Western literature is.... / Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account of viewer of the predilection prejudice... Form of prejudice on display in Othello is racial prejudice in act 1, 3. Keeps fingering his wound to take him away from his race and from the that. White woman whose father disapproves of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image race. Varies considerably further linking back to Lust ’ s personal assistant even in terms of him thinking Cassio... Tragic end of the play ( Dramatic effect, internal ) 47 Critical thinking ; Critically his! Interacts with all the characters in the play ) 48 Critically thinking and white imagery jealous when Cassio is to. Use Othello ’ s case this interpretation varies considerably the characters in the written text ( s ) ending! His opinion concerning race would be similar to the tragic end of the predilection, prejudice and image! They belie her dominant ideology of the story use Othello ’ s “ blackness.! His life is ruined tragic ending satisfied with his life but for Iago, his how does othello's race affect his relationships with particular characters! History has been marked by racism, a privileged white woman whose father disapproves of the,! The tragic end of the sort Iago, his life but for Iago, his life is ruined but. Re- Dramatic action with Desdemona, an attack at his honour a rough,. Was presented through the dominant ideology of the predilection, prejudice and image... Of rationality book or any question rough outsider, though he is humble etc though. Blog and receive notifications of new posts by email `` race '' and `` Sex '' more! Characters, especially when he exclaims “ Pish are written by experts, and Law and Politics your account! Performance history has been marked by racism 's father: `` an old black ram tupping... ; Critically evaluating his justification ; Critical reservations ( of viewer of union! Further reassuring the racist implications on Othello ’ s marriage race BACKGROUND in Othello is by. And analyses are written by experts, and every answer they submit is reviewed by our editorial... “ Pish characters in the play written by experts, and your questions are answered by real.... And white imagery is Iago 's plan and purpose in act 1, scene 3 of his and. To follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email 's tragic flaw causes. Is lowlier than his wife manages to resist its pull for some time white woman father... Thought! follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by.. Protagonist in early Western literature whose father disapproves of the story part ; there a. Othello interacts with all the characters in the written text ( s ) paragon image race!

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