The one subject that seems to be of most interest is the subject of racism in the story and poem of Shakespeare`s Othello. Whether or not it is believable, racism can be connected to almost any subject for the story`s theme. It can be the reason for a motive such as jealousy and can be the reason for our main character’s insecurities. Readers need to keep in mind that Othello is the only Black character in the story, maybe even the only black person in the whole island, and ask theme selves why a black character? Why have him be the one to suffer? And what message did Shakespeare intend to share with the reader about this story and its connection with Race at that part in time. The story takes place during the Elizabethan era, were it was quite obvious that discrimination of race was felt, and not just the Elizabethan era, but many of the other eras from stories and poems from literatures past have also gained their fair share of pleasure from discrimination.
Shakespeare`s Othello represented the Elizabethan eras racist origin. It is stated that “Othello is a tragedy of racial conflict, a tragedy of honor, rather than jealousy (qtd. In Andreas, 39)” the protagonist Othello is a moor and a successful most hard-working man, he is respected by many other solders, and is dedicated to serving his country. Yet when it comes to love and marriage, the thought of his race puts up a wall and covers the eyes of others, this tells us that being alienated can be a result of race, not just verbal abuse, and makes everyone he meets see him as a black moor first and a solder second. Jacques Derrida says that “There’s no racism without a language.”
In the beginning of Othello instead of being called by his name he has been referred to as Moor, Black, Thick lips, and old black ram. these titles are even being made by those who are in his service. The first is with Iago, Othello’s officer. He speaks with his inner thoughts saying “Now, sir, be judge yourself/Whether I in any just term am affined/To love the Moor.” (I.i.37-39). There is other character who voice their opinion on Othello.
“an old black ram” (I.i.87)
“… the sooty bosom of such a thing as thou – to fear, not to delight” (I.ii.70)
“… what delight shall she have to look on the devil” (II.i.220-221)
“O murderous coxcomb” (V.ii.234)
Adler states that “the devil’s blackness and the abnormal integration of ‘evil with good are compared by Othello’s blackness and how the African and European’ are mixing with each other. (1974: 250- 251) “Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you” (I. i. 91). She explains, that “When the audience meets the noble Moor, his blackness has been verbally linked with ugliness, the strange and unnatural, gross animal sensuality, and the evil of the devil himself (1974: 251).
As the play goes on the image of being black is seen in a clearer perspective. It seems that Iago can not stand the fact that Othello is a black man and of higher class than he is. He believes that a black person cannot marry a white woman. In response to this he informs Brabantio with a racist manner toward Othello. It is because of what Iago said to Brabantio at that time that made him depict Othello in a racist manner when being introduced in the beginning.
within the first several minutes of the story Iago demonizes Othello to Brabantio saying, “Even now, very now, an old black ram / Is topping your white ewe” (II.i. 88-89). Already within the Elizabethan era infidelity of a daughter to his father was unacceptable. Though this was made worse for the fact Othello was a black moor. Brabantio speaks his mind saying “With the Moor, say’st thou? (Who would be a father!)” (I.i.163). He mad is that Othello stole his daughter from him, he says to Roderigo “O, that you had had her!” (I.i.174). the marriage to a man he disapproved of was better than her marrying a black moor.
Even at the night of defense Iago warned Othello of the things Brabantio could do to him. Othello makes reveals that even he isn’t at peace with his past and being black. Instead of defending himself, he expresses that all he wishes is to be accepted as a Venetian and make his place in society.
Even Othello was aware that he could not have survived in society do to the situation if not for being a good solder, especially after the marriage. It is the reason the duke himself does not punish Othello after he learns of the marriage. Reason being is because of the fact that they would need him in their current time of need on Cyprus.
After these events, it was clear to how hateful the image Brabantio had on Othello. Othello’s skin color and race seem to have prevented all good things from happening to him. To him being black was so dreadful that he seemed to not ever get used to it. Not only did he feel to have to keep his marriage to Desdemona a secret but, people were questioning their marriage in general. Brabantio can’t even see that his daughter truly feels in love, and is so fixated on the fact that Othello was black and that he could have used witchcraft on her. He believes that if it were not for the spell Desdemona would leave Othello out of fear.
Do to the accusation against Othello, Desdemona is finally given the permission to speak, and by hearing her testimony it is made clear of what she thinks of Othello`s appearance. Even though she loves Othello enough to secretly marry him behind her fathers back, even she admits to the fact that she is not very impressed by his physical appearance. When defending herself and her love for Othello, she justifies her feeling for him by saying “I saw Othello’s visage in his mind” (I.iii.252).
In a way, Othello’s real mistake was marrying Desdemona in the first place. off Corse it is never a mistake when are considering true love. yet it is Othello’s race that should have been taken into consideration. Even though this is so, it is understood in a society where there exists great prejudism and inferiority against blacks and other denominations, international marriage cannot be accepted easily. Barry suggests that the situation in Othello’s race has been purposefully ignored by other people. The problem with race has always kept being continuously heated especially when involving the cross breading between races, it causes alienation. Othello`s marriage to Desdemona was a sparked and started the fire of racism, and planted the seeds of hatred toward Iago who had already wanted revenge on Othello. Iago focuses his reasons on getting his revenge on Othello, all because he was not chosen for lieutenant. The factor of race in the center of Iago’s jealousy lead him to orchestrate and plan Othello’s demise, from then on, his only aim was to destroy him. At this point one of the main facts that actually helped Iago go through with his plan was the fact that Othello was black. He wanted to believe that Desdemona was getting tired of her Husbend and would not be with him for long.
As Iago’s plans continue he assures Roderigo the Desdemona`s feeling will eventually fade away, and that in time she`d eventually be tired with Othello.
Iago eventually succeeds in raising suspicion in Othello’s mind about his wife. Iago`s feelings of inferiority towards Othello fed his goal and strengthened his desire to succeed. He not only rejects Othello, but he tries to turn others against him, and expresses his thoughts on him being black, proving to on a certain level that it is naturally possible of him being cheated on. Thus, his alienation intensifies and as a result of his past, he now believes that it is possible for his wife to be cheating on him. Özen explain how Othello’s antagonism is connected to his ‘ethnicity and culture’, and how the color of his skin causes him to feel alienated by the ‘white Venetian’ society as a result he does not thrust Desdemona because he thinks he is not a fitting partner for her. Ozan continues to say that “Othello’s blindness on love is due to his lack of self-knowledge as well as self-confidence for he is a Moor,” as a beautiful Venetian, a white woman appealing to a Moor is unnatural according to their society, this strengthens Othello’s belief in his wife’s disloyalty’: “Haply, for I am black…She’s gone” (III.iii.263-9).
Though Othello is a good person, for a black moor to kill his wife makes him the villain in the eyes of those who thought good of him. Emilia as Iago’s wife and as Desdemona`s servant never brought up the fact that Othello was of different denomination, yet after just witnessing the after math of the murder, she felt hatred for the race, saying to Othello “O, the more angel she, And you the blacker devil!” (V.ii. 129-31). Berry indicates: “Her cynical attitude towards men has apparently masked a revulsion against Othello’s blackness. Having exposed his evil, Othello becomes for her a “blacker devil,” the phrase revealing that in her imagination he has always been a black devil” (1990: 320).
Little did the play express Othello’s being a black moor, his marriage to Desdemona and killing her were all important element in the poem. Othello murdering Desdemona was related to their secret marriage, and their marriage says something about Othello’s skin color. These three factors are defiantly in relation with one and other, because for every element there is a repeat of another and is the starting point of the play’s suspense and disturbance of were Othello’s skin color is seen (1993: 306).
the destructive effects of racism, changed the lives Othello and Desdemona sincerely for the worse. It is seen that the prejudice and racism of a society can chain down and restrain the love of two people, and sometime cannot limit a person from destroying their happiness. Iago had dedicated himself to working under the power of racism in order to damage Othello. Othello was not able to open his eyes and not ignore Iago’s attempts to turn him against his wife. Iago is was already aware of the fact that Othello basically resented his root, and used that in order to ruin his life. Othello’s insecurities are do to his race and it makes him feel isolated. Race was the vary key Iago used to get his way, and was the trigger of the vary thought that lead Othello to be manipulated and take the life of his faithful wife along with his own.