Race: A Critical Factor in Othello

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Sinclaire Mitchell
Race is a critical factor in Othello, the story of the ‘dark Moor’ who gives in to sexual jealousy in a white society. Many people have numerous questions about this play. Why does Iago lie to Othello so cruel? Why does Othello believe Iago’s lies, and end up committing the terrible act of killing his dear wife? Shakespeare doesn’t make Iago’s intentions clear and he doesn’t really show us Othello’s personal fears and insecurities. The play starts with soldiers, Iago and Roderigo, taling bad about their leader, Othello, who just married the girl Roderigo loves, Desdemona. They refer to him as “thick lips” and “the devil” . Iago later defines Othello as “an old black ram … tupping your white ewe. “ There is no doubt that that the society around Othello is racist.

In the play, Othello has passed Iago up for a promotion and later Iago notifies “ I hate the Moor, and it is thought abroad that ‘twist my sheets he’s done my office. I know not if’s be true but I for mere suspicion in that kind, will do as it for surety.” In the modern version, he says, You know I’m eaten up with sodding envy. You know that, don’t you?” Is Iago racist? Does he lust Desdemona or want Othello for himself? Shakespeare doesn’t say. Othello even asks Iago about his reason, Iago answers mysteriously “ Demand me nothing; what you know, you know, from this time forth I never will speak a word.”

Racism was a big part of the public life in the 17th century. People of color were thought of as a “vicious people”. Shakespeare would have bear no nice pressure against these ideas yet he doesn’t actually define Othello as less than anyone else. Although Iago and Roderigo does make him sound awful in their rude first-act conversation. Shakespeare then shows Othello as a well-spoken and highly observed military leader who won the hard of a beautiful women. Iago dishonestly is what tears him apart.

There is also a romantic union between black and white which gets destroyed...
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