Race In Othello Analysis

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Race and Othello
Shakespeare's tragic play Othello depicts a black Moor thriving in a white society. The black Moor, Othello, marries Desdemona, a fair Venetian woman, despite her father's strong disapproval. Iago, who works for Othello, ploys to remove Othello's lieutenant out of jealousy and to eventually remove Othello himself. Through devious schemes, Iago uses Othello and nearly succeeds in taking his place. Although much of Othello’s meaning could remain unaltered without references to Othello’s skin color, Othello’s race plays a critical role in intensifying the play for audiences throughout time as well as for the characters within the play.
When Shakespeare wrote Othello in the sixteen hundreds, the influence of Africans in England was already apparent, and it seems that Shakespeare used this influence to intensify his play. Through analysis of other works during Shakespeare’s time, Elizabethan audiences would have believed “the more foreign the more inferior” and that “black is the color of sin”(Hunter 303). Using this knowledge, Shakespeare pulls at his audiences' emotions by creating the internally good Othello. Shakespeare then contrasts black with white by making white Iago the villain, rather than the assumed black Othello. This contrast, made possible by exploiting race, intensifies Iago’s
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Shakespeare used the racial knowledge of his time in crafting the tensions in Othello and has surprised his audiences for ages with the masterpiece produced. Othello’s race alters “our idea of him” and it “makes a difference to the action and catastrophe” throughout the play; so without it, the tensional parts of the play that audiences cannot resist would disappear (Bradley