Othello and the Colour Prejudice

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Natalia Grube
Othello Paper

The tragedy of Othello was caused by the insecurities and changing character of Othello himself. Racism and the villainous Iago both contributed to the evolution of Othello’s character. G.K Hunter the author of “Othello and Colour Prejudice.” Discusses how the prejudices against Othello, both in the play and also the prejudices Shakespeare’s audience already conveyed towards darker skinned people, were framed to doom Othello from the start. Hunters article gives a historical background of how people of color where perceived by the Christian faith, Elizabethans and other European countries of that time. What did Othello’s race mean to Shakespeare and his audience? Well it goes to say that Shakespeare was well aware of the fact that his protagonist was black and uses this as a primary factor in his play. The coming of Christianity dating back to 1500-1600, Shakespeare’s Era, viewed Moore’s or people of Color as animals. Barbaric in nature and damned by god for the color of their skin, they had also the basic and ancient sense that black is the colour of sin and death. (Hunter 250) Shakespeare incorporates these views in the beginning of the play

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
[1.1.42-43]

Iago and Rodrigo depict Othello as a barbaric lust filled beast that has stolen Barbantios innocent and pure Desdemona. Thus, when Shakespeare’s audience went to view the play, they already had an expectation of what The Moore of Venice would depict. An expectation of pagan deviltry set against white Christian Civilization. (Hunter 254) The first act of the play only re-enforces these ideals until we are introduced to Othello in Act I. When the second scene begins, it is clear that Othello is none of which Iago, Rodrigo and Barbantio accused him of being. “Barbary horse”, “black ram”,...
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