Enduring Value - Othello

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Shakespeare’s masterpiece Othello has remained relevant beyond its original context not merely because of its universal themes of love and betrayal, but rather, due to its textual integrity, and the enduring value which is enhanced through the exploration of such issues, as marginalisation and the psychology of villainy. Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello as being an outsider, and being “othered” by the Venetian society due to his different race, reflects traditional Elizabethan values and ethics regarding racial prejudice and inequality. These recurring issues, of social intolerance and racial bias are prevalent concerns in our modern society. Shakespeare’s expresses the nature of villainy through his antagonist, Iago, as he explores issues of betrayal and deceit. These issues, revolving around Othello’s passion, struggle and vulnerability, as an outsider, are representative of the human condition, hence making it pivotal, of why “Othello” has remained relevant in a different context. Shakespeare positions us to view the marginalisation and dehumanisation of Othello, from various perspectives, initially through physical features, the notion of racial contempt is conveyed via Rodrigo’s, “Thick Lips”, Iago’s “Old Black Ram”, and Brabantio’s “fall in love with what she fear’d to look on”. This vilification, based on physical appearance reinforces traditional Elizabethan views, and to an extent, views held by groups in society today. Though, Othello’s physical appearance was just one factor. Othello was named “devil” by Iago, from a spiritual perspective, stereotyping those of African descent who were associated with witchcraft, this metaphor reinforces stereotypical racism, causing the reader to question, what has initiated such hatred from Iago to Othello, this allows the reader to a connect on an emotional level with Othello, as it generates empathy. Furthermore the readers perspective of Othello is conflicted due to other members of Venetian society, “your...
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