The Role of Race in Othello

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Race per se can be defined as a grouping of human beings based on their shared physical or social qualities and color. Some people are judged and treated differently based off their race. The characters in the Shakespeare play of Othello reacted to the main character due to his skin color.

The only two characters that are not bothered by Othello skin color is Desdemona and Cassio. Othello, in Shakespeare’s play Othello, is a happily married and widely respected general in the Venetian army despite his African heritage. In this play Othello is described as a “Moor”. According to the editors of the play a “Moor” is described as Muslim people who lived on the northern coast of Africa, an area of Europeans called barbary.

Othello is a Moorish prince living in Venetian Army. His officer Iago tricks him into believing that his wife Desdemona is having an affair with his Lieutenant, Michael Cassio. The issue of race in Othello is describe by many things. Many people discriminate based on several reasons; fear, desire for power, or a need to remove themselves from other people. People sometimes use others skin color to express their hatred towards them.

The problem is the racial difference that causes unnecessary doubt and jealousy, sense of revenge and hatred in Othello which results disasters, However, in Othello “in Shakespeare day, the term Moor was often used broadly, to refer to any person with dark or black skin, including black Africans. Several references in the play seem to describe Othello as a black African” (xix). This goes on to show that people judge others based off their race. Othello was well respected but also judged. Although we know the exact color of his skin, the important point is Othello was an outsider in Venice. In the beginning of the play, Othello has not yet, experienced discrimination.

Discrimination is not always the key to expressing your feelings towards others. However, expressing your feelings can hurt others as well. According to Kris Collins, the “raced” bodies of blackface cannot be extricated from the economic circumstances of slavery”. Slavery contributes to the role of race in Othello because he is being discriminated based upon his skin color. People treated others unfairly just like it this play. Most people see blacks as “Negroes”. The word negroes show hatred to many people.

However, Othello, was described as a “Moor” in this play. The article written by Arthur Kris Collins goes to show that there are a lot of people who don’t too much care about your feelings or your race and ethnicity. The article talks about the productions of Othello.

Changes that were made to the lead character to erase all elements of Negro-like behavior, included what the productions of `Othello’ projected blacks as, and what the play `Othello’ signified for white Americans. Theatrical production of Othello in nineteenth-century America was governed by many of the same institutional conditions that bore on the production of all Shakespearean dramas at the time. The main cause of Iago’s hatred of Othello is also his racial hatred and prejudice; it is in that sense also that we can regard racial difference as the cause of tragedy.

The role of Iago in the Shakespeare play of Othello is to manipulate Othello into demoting Cassio and thereafter to bring about the downfall of Othello himself. He has an ally. Roderigo. Who assists him in his plans in the mistaken belief that after Othello is gone, Iago will help Roderigo earn the affection of Othello’s wife.


Cite this paper

The Role of Race in Othello. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-role-of-race-in-othello/



Does race matter in Othello?
Yes, race is a significant factor in Othello as the play's protagonist, Othello, is a black man in a predominantly white society, and his race is often used as a tool to manipulate and undermine him.
How is Othello insecure about his race?
Othello is insecure about his race because he is the only black man in Venice and he is not from Venice.
How is race an issue in Othello?
Othello is a black man living in a white society. He is constantly aware of his race and the prejudice that comes with it.
What is the race of Othello?
Yes, Othello is a tragedy according to Aristotle because it contains all the elements of a tragedy including a tragic hero with a tragic flaw.
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