Dr. Helen Davis
1 December 2011
In the play Othello written by Shakespeare, the issue of racism is addressed. Othello, the protagonist of the play, is African American or black. “According to Lois Whitney, many of Othello’s specific attributes probably derive from Shakespeare’s reading of Leo Africanus, whose Geographical Historie of Africa which was translated and published in London in 1600”(Berry, 1990). Many critics have different views on this. “If Shakespeare depended upon Leo Africanus for such details, he must have been much more interested in racial psychology than critics such as Bradley or Heilman suggest”(Berry, 1990). One of the most prominent features of this Shakespeare play is the numerous references to Othello's skin color made by multiple characters however some critics tend to ignore or underplay the issue of Othello’s race.
Many critics have different views and arguments on Othello’s skin color. “A.C. Bradley, fro example, asserts that in regards to the essentials of his character Othello’s race is unimportant, and that Shakespeare would have laughed if anyone had congratulated him on the accuracy of his racial psychology” (Skura 2008). Others differ and believe Othello’s race was important. “Laurence Lemer calls Othello the story of a barbarian who relapses and concludes that Shakespeare suffered from colour prejudice” (Berry, 1990). Throughout the play Othello is referred to as a Moor. Moor is a term meaning a descent from Africa. “Harold Clarke Goddard argues that Othello is neither a Negro nor a Moor but any many who is more beautiful within than he is without” (Skura, 2008). Some critics even put the audience of the play into consideration. “The potential impact of his physical appearance upon audiences is suggested by Charles Lamb’s frank admission that although he could find Othello admirable in the reading he was only repelled by the figure of a coal-black Moor on stage, he concluded that the...