Othello Racist Text Analysis

1531 Words7 Pages
A quick reading of the beginning of Othello would lead the reader to believe that this play is a racist text considering that there is no initial description of the central character given other than his racial differences. There are numerous disapproving terms used to define who Othello is. Instead of Othello being referred to by his name, he is mentioned as “the Moor” or other racist names. The concept of race was directly included in the title with its subtitle: “The Moor of Venice”. (Sanders, pg. 203) With such an opening to the play, the reader is controlled to read it as a text that is filled with racist views shared in Shakespeare’s time. But what is most surprising is that in several ways, this is not a racist story at all. As the play…show more content…
In this play, race is the otherness that separates Othello from everyone else in the play. Characters such as Brabanzio, are taken back by the news of his daughter’s secret marriage with “the Moor” even though at this point he doesn’t have knowledge of the fact that Roderigo and Iago are referring to Othello. All he knows is that since they are speaking of a colored man, there must be some dark arts at work. Brabanzio later encounters Othello and accuses him of witchcraft and is convinced that this outsider is using trickery and dark magic to engage Desdemona, “For an abuser of the world, a practicer of art inhibited and out of warrant” (I.ii.79-80) and wonders how, “in spite of nature” (I.iii.97), his beautiful daughter could have fallen “in love with that what she feared to look on” (I.iii.99). This quote is a particularly revealing statement about how race might have been viewed by contemporaries of Shakespeare’s time. (Hunter) Othello is, first and foremost, without hesitation, a black Moor who can never physically overcome his ‘otherness’ among the Venetians. (Hunter) The distressed father considers such a union to be against the laws of nature. The information he was given by Iago and Roderigo that the Moor is a black man, is obvious that it may have been common to associate black men with dark magic and seduction and furthermore, it remarks on the idea that black…show more content…
He is at once very modest and doesn’t pretend to “act” like the arrogant figure that he was made out to be and states, “Rude am I in my speech, and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace” (I.iii.82-83). This humility defines him throughout the first act of the book, if not throughout the first half of the book. He is a man that is completely willing to accept that he is racially different, yet not racially inferior. In fact, he seems to recognize that his status as an “other” in a world of white men, can actually be helped by his race and mysterious life stories. He woos his friends, as well as his lovers with tales that they want to hear again and again and is thus, forced to recognize that he is in fact, admired, at least in part, for these exotic and mysterious elements of his character. We learn that the previous portrayals of Othello were wrong and he won Desdemona with his stories and greatness rather than witchcraft. Even the Duke is forced to confess that such stories would have won his daughter as well. But, Shakespeare did not simply state the obvious. Shakespeare’s character Othello is complex and not simply the stereotypical Black everybody might expect or might have expected to see, (especially after the first scene) you just have to recognize it for yourself. (Hadfield, pg. 1) While Othello tends to use these elements

More about Othello Racist Text Analysis

Open Document