Othello: A Covert Discussion on Racism

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The issue of race is one filled with controversy and passion, even today in the twenty-first centaury. In today’s day and age it is more shuttle and underground then it was in its most recent ‘hay-day’. In our time today we see it as more of a shameful, offensive and intolerant thing, but it was the norm in the early 15th and 16th century. Today those people that are outwardly racist are seen as outcasts. In this essay I will tempt to show how even though it was the norm in Victorian England, Shakespeare already had another mind set, and was trying in this creative way that the mind set of the people was not correct even for that time. How and why did Shakespeare purposely portray Othello the Moor as a tragic hero, like Hamlet or King Lear, or did this character redevelop over time, as society’s view on racism changed. This issue of race is not signaler to Othello alone but through out the play with all the other characters, such as the main antagonist Iago, and the prejudice Barbantio. I will also attempt to explore their roles as well. The History of the slave trade for Britain began in 1066, but the slaves of that time period were mostly indentured servants, meaning that after they had paid off what they owned their master they were free to go and live their lives. “It is estimated that over half of all white immigrants to Colonial America during the 17th and 18th centuries consisted of redemptoners” (Wikipedia). Britain’s roles in the Atlantic slave trade begin around the mid-fifteenth century. During the late fifteenth century slavery became very lucrative. At first it was the Portuguese that had the dominate hand in the trade, but soon one man, John Hawkins begin to carry out his own assaults. “Between 156... ... middle of paper ... ... 1994 6. Amon, Frank. Othello, Macbeth and King Lear: A Formal Approach. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1978. 7. Edwards, Philip & Kenneth Muir. Aspects of Othello. New York, NY: University of Cambridge Press, 1978. 8. Vaughan, Virginia Mason. Othello: A Contextual History. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 9. “Othello.” The Longman Anthology British Literature Volume One. Ed 4. Damrosch, David & Dettmar, Kevin J. H. New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. 1272 – 1359. Print. 10. "Othello: Summary." eNotes: Othello. Ed. Penny Satoris. Seattle: Enotes.com Inc, October 2002. eNotes.com. 8 December 2009. . 11. "History of slavery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 Dec 2009, 21:43 UTC. 8 Dec 2009 .

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