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 … 13 February 2016.]). 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. ©2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is unusual, we presume his opinion concerning race would be similar to the rest of society. Our summaries and analyses are written by experts, and your questions are answered by real teachers. Racism very much affects the way Othello interacts with all the characters in the play. 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. But in Act IV, he crumbles. The reader is rendered unsure whether the character of Heathcliff is actually black, white or Other. Lie with her! Othello and Race. Further linking back to Lust’s Dominion and the Binary black and white imagery. 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 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. B.A. 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. Note how he describes Othello to Brabantio, Desdemona's father: "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe." 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. 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. The most prominent form of prejudice on display in Othello is racial prejudice. See also our discussions of "Race" and "Sex" for more on this topic. 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. b. 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. 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. ( Log Out /  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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. – – O devil – -” reinforce the increase of passion that is fuelling his restlessness and his lack of rationality. – – Confess – – handkerchief! 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 What is Othello's tragic flaw that causes his downfall. 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. Brabantio is not the only one outraged by the … 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). When analyzing this scene using a cultural lens, a modern audience can understand Othello’s position in society because of his 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." What is Iago's plan and purpose in act 1, scene 3 of. All things Educational. 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. 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. Noses, ears, and lips. 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. The use of exclamatory remarks and disjointed incomplete sentences when he exclaims “Pish! “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, … Othello, a black general, was disapproved and deemed unfit to become Desdemona’s husband, not because of his achievements, but because of race. 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. ( Log Out /  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. Change ). – -Is’t possible? 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. from University of Oxford M.A. Othello was otherwise satisfied with his life but for Iago, his life is ruined. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime. A military general, he has risen to a position of power and influence. Othello, undeniably heroic even if ultimately flawed, is the most prominent black protagonist in early Western literature. 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! Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Educators go through a rigorous application process, and every answer they submit is reviewed by our in-house editorial team. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! 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”. Brontë simply describes him as “a Lascar” (an Indian seaman) and a “dark-skinned gipsy”, leaving the rest to us to interpret. The play's performance history has been marked by racism. 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. Othello Analysis . The characterisation of Othello was presented through the dominant ideology of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image of race. 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. Analyse how a key relationship was used to comment on the human condition in the written text(s). Othello. What reason does Iago give for his hatred of Othello? Othello is one of the first black heroes in English literature. Brabantio says, "O, she deceives me/Past thought!" 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. 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”. Web. In nearly every case, the prejudiced characters use terms that describe Othello as an animal or beast. In Shakespeare’s Othello, the primary obstacle in Othello and Desdemona’s relationship is Othello’s race, and hence, his status as an outsider. 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. ( Log Out /  Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. While Othello is barraged by racism, he manages to resist its pull for some time. However, the allegations of race directly lead to its tragic ending. 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”. 81–82). (1.1.163-164). 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. (Dramatic effect, internal) 47 Critical thinking re- dramatic action. The murder of his wife shaped Othello’s identity as a cruel being, a ‘monster’, a murderer and a devil in person. Sharing resources for Secondary English. ’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.. from University of Oxford Ph.D. from University of Leicester, Top subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics. Iago becomes jealous when Cassio is chosen to be Othello’s personal assistant. Does Othello prove to the Duke he really loves Othello may be impressive on the battlefield, but his own personal insecurity leads to the tragic end of the story. 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. 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. Feelings of inadequacy and distrust without question aid … It holds us enthralled, (Dramatic effect, external) as it does the Duke. Already a member? 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: 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. Critical intelligence / critical thinking ; Critically evaluating his justification ; Critical reservations (of viewer of the play) 48 Critically Thinking . The characterisation of Othello was presented through the dominant ideology of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image of race. Many of Othello's insecurities are derived from his race and from the perception that he is lowlier than his wife. Race also determines how Othello perceives himself as a rough outsider, though he is nothing of the sort. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. However, race clearly plays a part; there is a suggestion that Iago dislikes having a black man superior to 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. Lie on her! Log in here. 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. Othello faces constant racism from other characters, especially when he marries Desdemona, a privileged white woman whose father disapproves of the union. Lecture on Othello - Othello's Jealousy. As revenge for what Othello has done, Iago decides to use Othello’s marriage. 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). The dominant ideology of the sort the perception that he is humble etc ( s ) with all characters. He marries Desdemona, a privileged white woman whose father disapproves of the play 's performance history has been by... Racism very much affects the way we see Othello characterised in the play your 48-hour trial... White woman whose father disapproves of the predilection, prejudice and paragon image of race superior to.. 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