Racism In Othello Analysis

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William Shakespeare’s Othello is a play that tackles the racial issues of the Elizabethan period without explicitly mentioning them. Shakespeare aims to go against the stereotypical views of black men and paint them in a good light, one that his audience is not used to. The play takes place in a setting relatively tolerant of Africans, Venice, but through the events of the play the Elizabethan audience is able to see the damage that their racist thinking creates. Shakespeare shows the effect of racism on an accomplished man, as everything that happens to Othello is due to his race and how others treat him because of it; he is accused of enchanting Desdemona, believes she is cheating on him, and dies all because he is black. In the beginning …show more content…
In his article “‘Othello’ and Race Relations in Elizabethan England”, Rudolph Shaw explains that “This lack of self-confidence and esteem is typical of racial inferiority” (Shaw 87) Because black men were looked down upon, they grew accustomed to the belief that they are not as worthy as white men. Faced with constant discrimination, they started to believe in what people were saying about them. Their opinions of themselves lessened and it was easy for them to feel inferior to white men, Othello is victim to this. As a black man, he doesn’t believe in himself and even once he gets Desdemona he isn’t completely confident that she was his. He says "Haply, for I am black/And have not those soft parts of conversation/That chamberers have, or for I am declined/Into the vale of years, -yet that 's not much-/She 's gone" (Shakespeare 3.3.304-308). This proves that Othello has low self-esteem because he is black. He believes that his race causes him to not be polite enough to really have Desdemona, that if he were a white man it would be easier to woo her. However, he seems to have stopped caring for the reasons why she left him because it 's a done deed, even though he has no proof for it. He doesn’t need any proof because he is so self-conscious that he cannot believe Desdemona could really love him, so he readily accepts the idea that she wasn’t being faithful to …show more content…
Though he doesn’t outwardly express them, the play is targeted towards the racist audience of Elizabethan England, “In creating a Moor who was black in the face yet noble in the spirit, Shakespeare had the perfect character to astound and perplex the already bloodthirsty Elizabethan audiences” (Shaw 84). This audience is used to seeing the black man as the villain, but here they are presented with a new story - a noble black man and a villainous white man - which makes them question the racist stereotypes. The play challenged the common Elizabethan belief that black men were evil and lesser than white men. Othello was clearly a noble character, he just had a detrimental flaw - his lack of confidence. Furthermore, Shakespeare reveals how in the end it is the racist view of Othello that led to his downfall. He lacked confidence because black men were looked down upon - a man in England at the time would have felt the same way. White Englishmen had a sense of superiority and this led black males to feel they weren’t good enough. Had Othello not been belittled and made to feel that he was not worthy of Desdemona he would not have believed Iago as easily, and Othello would not have ended with his tragic

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