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Shakespeares Othello - Research Paper Example

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The paper aims to discuss Shakespeare’s Othello. Othello presents, in his extreme form, the situation of the alien in a hierarchal, predatory and therefore not yet fully human society. Othello’s color is thus representative of a much wider human protest that concerns race alone…
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Shakespeares Othello
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Download file to see previous pages In another way, however, the color is of crucial importance in focusing the irrational feelings associated with that difference. Shakespeare forced his audience to see Othello first with the ‘bodily eye’ of Iago. This hero is a great human being who, differing physically as well as culturally from the community he has entered, recognizes (within the limits of his social role) only universal human values of love and loyalty; but when in his equalitarian innocence he assumes full human rights in a society where other values are dominant, he makes himself and his personal relationships vulnerable to irrational , inhuman forces, embodied in Iago, that try to reduce him to a level as irrational as themselves and almost—but not quite—succeed (Cowhig 23).

Although color prejudice and discrimination, in our sense of these terms—were unknown to the Elizabethan, it may be noted that the imagery of the play among other things emphasizes the contrast between light and dark. Othello is far more fair than black, because his visage is in his mind’ Iago will make the blonde Desdemona begrimed and black by turning her virtue into pitch: Iago’s business is thus to confuse the opposites. ‘The first and last acts are set in darkness, broken in one case by torches and in the other by Othello’s fatal candle as he speaks the soliloquy ‘Put out the light, and then put out the light’ (Braxton 13). ...
‘The first and last acts are set in darkness, broken in one case by torches and in the other by Othello’s fatal candle as he speaks the soliloquy ‘Put out the light, and then put out the light’ (Braxton 13). While Iago is trying to bring darkness into the happy light of Othello’s life, there is an opposing force that tries to bring light into the surrounding darkness. The bearing of this symbolism on the moral opposition between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is obvious but Shakespeare does not start with symbols and then attach complexions to them, and the inevitable effect of this opposition is to stress the racial contrast between Othello and his associates. Color prejudice could not possibly have been a current problem in Shakespeare’s day in the modern sense of economical, political and sexual rivalry within a competitive society, conditioned by the hangover from slavery and by movements of African independence. Elizabethan would, however, have first hand contact with Moors. Trade with North Africa had long flourished; and on two occasions when there was an expulsion of Moors from Spain, in 1958 and 1609, they were carried back to Africa in English ships, apparently with much sympathy from the crews (Cowhig 24). As England backed the Moors against a common enemy, Spain, it is perhaps significant that the form of Iago’s name is Spanish. In 1600, only four years before the first recorded performance of Othello, many theatergoers would have seen ‘noble Moors’ lodging in London, members of an embassy from the Barbary Coast to Queen Elizabeth (Braxton 16). There is little doubt that Moors were generally credited with savagery as well as splendor. Elizabethan processions might be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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