Imagery in the Play, Othello

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Imagery in the play Othello
In the play Othello, Shakespeare uses imagery to illustrate the theme of racism. Shakespeare uses three different forms of imagery, each with a different purpose. Religious and colour imagery is used to suggest racist stereotypes and the idea that black races suffer from poor circumstance. In addition, Shakespeare uses animal imagery to express Othello’s position in the chain of being. All of this to show, that racism is unacceptable and cannot prevent the love of anyone, no matter what race they are.

Firstly, in the play Othello, Shakespeare uses animal imagery to suggest Othello is lower in the chain of being. “Even now, now, very now an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise; Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. Arise I say!” (I.I.9). In this quote Iago is comparing Othello to an old black ram by linking Othello’s skin colour to a black ram’s and associates the white ewe, a young female sheep, to Desdemona. In Shakespeare’s work he attempts to demonstrate to his audience an old black man making love to a young white woman. You can visualize their affair better when relating Othello and Desdemona to a black ram and white ewe because it would seem disturbing to the audience that an old black ram would be mating with a young white ewe. Therefore, animal imagery is just one of the many examples of imagery used to express racism in Othello.

Secondly, Shakespeare uses religious imagery to show how Othello follows your typical black man stereotype; violent, savage, and to be feared. “O the more angel she, And you the blacker devil!” (V.II. 130-131). Emilia describes Othello as “the blacker devil” just after he killed Desdemona. Shakespeare’s description “blacker” means Othello is a grander sinner than Desdemona, who he is accusing, and “devil” is used as a strong expression of hate used by Emilia. The irony is that the prejudice people had toward Othello was...
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