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Othellos origin - Essay Example

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The object of analysis for the purpose of this assignment is the play “Othello”. One of the major issues that Othello portrays is the intermingling of Muslim religion and culture with the West. It was written just a century after Muslims were driven out of Spain…
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Download file to see previous pages This research will begin with the statement that some critics believe that Othello is dominantly a play about race and color. Shakespeare uses the symbol to show the worth of white and prove the discrimination against black. It will be unwise, however, to claim that it is solely with reference to the character of Othello because of Iago, despite his color, had a black heart.  Othello was a ‘Moor’, which applied to Arab and Berber people of North Africa who inhabit medieval Spain. There is a possibility that Othello belonged to the tribe of Moors who remained in Spain after the fall of Granada in 1492. Later, they were expelled in 1609. He could also be connected with the people of Barbary in North Africa. In the play, Iago calls him a ‘barbary horse’ with reference to the famous horses of Arab but also playing a pun on the word calling him a barbarian and a savage. There is a likelihood that he did not belong to any of the categories and was simply a black African. This paper will trace Othello’s origin to show that he was not a native of Venice. Bradley, in his book on Shakespeare’s Tragedies, states that the evidence about Othello’s origins is “indecisive”. Features in Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello seem to have been strained from all of the blacks who may have been in England during his time. To the Elizabethan mind, black was the color of the skin which depicted the Otherness of a person who had the satanic predisposition and sexual pervasion. ...
lock was chosen to fulfill the need in the dramatic structure of The Merchant of Venice, similarly Othello’s color “seems to derive from a specific dramaturgical requirement”. Hence, Othello was given black skin and thick lips to clearly distinguish from the native inhabitants of Venice. His problem is not with the community and the government at large. He has the respect of all the people around him. His only enemy is Iago. It can be believed that the dislike of Iago and Roderigo for Othello may be due to his color. In Elizabethan England, people with black skin were called wanderers. Othello is depicted as one of them (Braxton 1990). Recalling from the play when the ensign indirectly calls himself a spider, plotting against Cassio and Desdemona: With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio (II.i) Thus, Othello’s black skin is identical to the color of the spider’s most recurrent victim, the fly. The spider is not necessarily punished for this crime because the fly is the food it preys on. The play could have easily lost its charm, therefore, without the racial prejudice that exists for Othello. The relationship of Iago and Othello is not a bilateral one. Othello trusted Iago and Iago took advantage of this trust. “It is remarkable how many chief's sons there are in London today. And here is Shakespeare, knowing his audience, using this native English snobbery for his own purpose three and a half centuries ago. And my own feeling is that he takes more trouble to establish sympathy with Othello than he would if Othello were European and if Shakespeare did not expect prejudice.” (Mason 1962) Mason, a critic who writes about race prejudice in Othello rightfully states in the above lines, a mastermind like Shakespeare who knew his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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