Dr. Helen Davis
1 December 2011
In the play Othello written by Shakespeare, the issue of racism is addressed. Othello, the protagonist of the play, is African American or black. “According to Lois Whitney, many of Othello’s specific attributes probably derive from Shakespeare’s reading of Leo Africanus, whose Geographical Historie of Africa which was translated and published in London in 1600”(Berry, 1990). Many critics have different views on this. “If Shakespeare depended upon Leo Africanus for such details, he must have been much more interested in racial psychology than critics such as Bradley or Heilman suggest”(Berry, 1990). One of the most prominent features of this Shakespeare play is the …show more content…
If it wasn’t for Othello being black, the play may have had a different outcome. “Throughout the play, Othello sees himself either as an exotic Venetian, a convert in the fullest sense, capable of complete assimilation, or he sees himself as a barbarian, worthy of destruction” (Berry, 1990). In the play Othello was worthy of destruction. It was the racism and hatred that drove him to it. If the other characters weren’t so judgmental about his skin color, the play would have ended very differently. “His failure to break free of this constricting framework, to achieve a true sense of personal identity, is one of the play’s most powerful sources of tragic feeling” (Berry, 1990). With all the commotion over Othello’s race, it really didn’t give him a chance to be himself. By him being black, it makes him feel less accepted into his society. “Othello attempts to shape an image of himself that will win acceptance in Venice” (Berry, 1990). Critics also even see how Othello’s identity is altered by the constant racial tension against him in the play. “Stephen Greenblatt argues, Othello’s identity depends upon a constant performance of his story, a loss of his own origins, an embrace and perpetual reiteration of the norms of another culture” (Greenblatt, 1990).
All of this racism in the play causes Othello some serious anxiety. Anxiety is a condition that