Examine How Racism Is Presented in Act One of the Play and Write an Essay Explaining Why Desdemona Married Othello in Secret.

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Racism is presented in a range of ways in Othello Act One, but it is mainly presented through Barbantio’s reaction to the secret marriage between Desdemona and Othello. Also racism is presented through Iago’s and Roderigo’s comments about Othello. When Iago and Roderigo speaks of Othello they him a “Barbary horse,” an “old black ram,” and also tells Brabantio that his daughter and Othello are “making the beast with two backs”. These phrases dehumanises Othello and makes him different from the other characters. Animal imagery is used to express prejudice against Othello’s race and it is used to help convey Othello as a monster and the choices of animals shows the underlying racism: “ram” and “Barbary horse”. The "Moor” which is a reference to his dark skinned appearance and a reference to the race of Muslim peoples of north-western Africa to which he belongs to. However this is not a racist comment as all characters even Desdemona refer to Othello as the Moor. The references to witchcraft and the devil also help to emphasise Othello’s differences: “The devil will make a grandsire of you”, “the beast with two backs”. As we do not see Othello until near the end of Act One, we base our opinion on these comments from Brabantio, Iago and Roderigo and therefore we are set up to believe that Othello’s character is very different to that of a typical Venetian Desdemona has gone against social conventions by marrying Othello. Their differences were mainly Othello's age and race; however, these lingers in his mind as Iago used these differences to create jealousy and hatred which eventually led to the death of both characters. ‘The devil will make a grandsire out of you’. This simply means that Barbantio will be Othello’s (the devil) granddad. Brabantio is prejudiced against Othello as a son-in-law. Barbantio cannot believe that his daughter has willing married Othello. He tries to say that she is under control of witchcraft. ‘She in chains of magic’ / ‘thou hast...
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