What Role Race Plays in Othello

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Instructor: Ellsworth
Written by:
Reacheal Musgrove
January 28, 2011

Research images of Othello.

Define Moor.
Moor: a) A member of a Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent, now living chiefly in northwest Africa.
b) One of the Muslims who invaded Spain in the 8th century and established a civilization in Andalusia that lasted until the late 15th century.

Here is the description of Othello in the play.
Othello has certain traits which make him seem naïve and unsophisticated compared to many other people. He is of strong character. He is very proud and in control of every move and situation. The control is not only of power but of the sense of his being who he is, a great warrior. The nature of his character is of a dark man. Not only because he is black, but also because his whole person is mysterious. He is mysterious in that he believes there is magic brewing everywhere. Othello has a trusting nature. Othello’s character is brought to light by a horrible situation by a deceitful devil named Iago. 1.) How important is the concept of race in this play?

Race is an important element in “Othello”. It is one of the factors that Othello feels makes him an outsider, someone who is on the periphery of social and political power. The doubt that he experiences is, in part, due to the fact that he is black. In the play, when Rodrigo and Iago call out to Brabanito to inform him that his “white ewe” is being topped by a “black ram”, is where it actually sets the theme for the rest of the novel. If not for Othello’s race, he might be immune, or at least more resistant to Iago’s manipulation. Othello is keenly aware that his skin color creates a barrier that he can never completely overcome in his dealings with the Europeans.

2.) In the past, white men have played Othello in black face. Could a white man play the...
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