Is Othello's Race the Determining Factor for His Downfall?

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In Shakespeare's tragic play Othello, many scholars have debated on what was really the defining factor which led to Othello, the main protagonist's eventual downfall. Although there are many contributing causes, the fact that Othello is born a black man in a predominantly white Venetian society is, in fact, the main cause. Simply from Othello acknowledging the fact that he is a black man going against the social norms of such a society ultimately, yet obliquely, sparks the other reasons which contributed to the Moor's downfall. Even though Othello is a "departure from the stereotype" (Butcher, 247), his insecurities still get the best of him in the end. Othello is often interpreted by scholars as a white man in the body of a black man. In Edward Berry’s essay “Othello’s Alienation,” the author discusses the issue of race with regards to Othello; his “anxiety about his blackness” serves as a contributing factor in his vulnerability to Iago’s devious plot, his vindication for his actions, and his anger towards Desdemona (Berry, 325). John Arthos takes the argument even further by stating how, through his insecurities, led to the murder of Desdemona, which inevitably sealed Othello's doom (Arthos, 103-104). And thus, by providing clear-cut evidence through articles by various scholars and as well as from the play itself, the readers will hopefully see how, above all else, it was in fact Othello's skin colour which conclusively spurred his downfall.

Othello's Racial Identity
Philip Butcher
Shakespeare Quarterly
Vol. 3, No. 3 (Jul., 1952), pp. 243-247
Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University

Othello's Alienation
Edward Berry
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
Vol. 30, No. 2, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (Spring, 1990), pp. 315-333 Published by: Rice University

The Fall of Othello
John Arthos
Shakespeare Quarterly
Vol. 9, No. 2 (Spring, 1958), pp. 93-104
Published by: Folger Shakespeare...
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