Is It Iago, Venetian Society, or Himself That Is to Blame for Othello's Downfall?

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The fate of Othello is typical of a Shakespearian play. Shakespeare often builds up his main characters, by calling them ‘valiant' and ‘noble' and relating all his great military achievements in the case of Othello, and then by dragging them off their elated positions by soiling them with such petty emotions as hate or jealousy. ‘Othello' itself is a play of strong opposites. Anger and love and the constant imagery of heaven and hell, Othello being the ‘devil' and Desdemona the ‘angel'.

One of the key factors, which no doubt contributes to Othello's downfall, is how Venetian society viewed him. ‘Moor' is the constant nickname that haunts him wherever he goes. Even though the people who say this might not be trying to be intentionally racist, they are nevertheless drawing attention to his skin colour, meaning that they see him as standing out for that one feature. This perhaps shows that racism had reached a subconscious level in Venetian society and that the inhabitants of Venice have some sort of ingrained prejudice against different ethnicities, probably due to how their society educated them and to the limited cultures that they were exposed to. This is very close to modern life, as many white people who have limited social interaction with blacks perceive them as either dangerous or excellent sportsmen, since that is how the media portrays them.

Additionally, western society has always imagined the devil as being black, therefore causing a negative view of the colour. This is manifested by the amount of times Othello is referred to as a ‘devil'. This also begins to introduce the imagery of heaven and hell that becomes apparent in ‘Othello', which even Othello seems to enforce when he damns himself ‘beneath all depth in hell' and the way in which when talking of himself he always refers to hell and when talking of Desdemona, of heaven. On the other hand, Desdemona is seen as ‘heavenly' and an ‘angel'. Even now the devil is still perceived as being...
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