Comparing Shakespeare's Othello with Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Topics: White people, Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" Pages: 2 (741 words) Published: November 11, 2010
Comparing Shakespeare’s Othello with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

It is often that when we read great works of literature we come across similar themes. Authors use powerful ideas that they believe will move their readers and relate to them so they become engaged in the words written. William Shakespeare and Joseph Conrad were amazing writers of their times and even though their works were written almost 300 years apart, both, Othello and Heart of Darkness, have coinciding themes. The major theme that both Shakespeare and Conrad tackled was racism and the concept of whites versus blacks. The play Othello tells the story of a black general by the name of Othello and the betrayal, lies, and deception that comes about when marrying a white woman. Right in the beginning of the play Shakespeare shows many signs of racy remarks towards Othello. There is no other further description of the general in the first act other than racial differences. Iago and Roderigo never call him by his real name merely calling him “the moor” showing that they believe he is not even worthy of a name nevertheless even being represented as a human. Roderigo goes even further into telling Desdemona’s father “you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse, you’ll have your nephews neigh to you” (1.1.106-110). He is making Othello out to have the physical features of a horse with calling him “thick lips” in a previous line and then saying to the father that his daughter will bare half-horse children. Before even getting the true identity of Othello the reader is given the image of only animals and beasts. This demonstrates the perceived view of the time this play was written on how men and woman saw blacks and animals as almost parallel to each other. Many years after writing Heart of Darkness, Conrad took on a large amount of back lash, being considered a racist for the abuse and racial slurs towards Africans throughout this novel. This work is based on the colonization of Africa...
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