Othello And Harlem Duet

1507 Words7 Pages
All throughout life many people struggle to find happiness due to the obstacles they face. In both Djanaet Sears’ play Harlem Duet and Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun, the characters Othello and Walter are both hindered in their journey by the perception of others to achieve self-actualization due to their race and the pressure of fitting a gender role. Ultimately Othello succumbs to these obstacles while Walter is able to overcome them.

First of all coloured people are viewed as lesser human beings by the white community. In Sears’ play Harlem Duet Othello strives to be accepted by the white community, since the ideology that whites are better than blacks exist in his environment. When arguing about affirmative action, he tells Billie
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Othello has a fragile sense of masculinity and often feels lesser of himself if he cannot be the sole provider. When Billie and Othello are arguing over the black feminist position Othello feels emasculated. He says “I believe in tradition. You don’t support me. Black women are more concerned with their careers than their husbands. There was a time when women felt satisfied, no, honored being a balance to their spouse, at home, supporting the family, playing her role-“(Sears, 70) Othello feels that he does not meet up to societies expectations as a male in a relationship. Othello’s notion of gender roles is thickly engraved into his mind, that a man should be the sole provider in the family. This is the result of the societal pressure of gender norms that Othello sees in white communities, desiring them. Othello’s fragile sense of masculinity breaks him, hindering him from achieving self-actualization. In addition, Othello’s notion of gender roles is further emphasized by the characters that he is surrounded by causing him to feel emasculated. While he was arguing with Billie he says “I don’t need more than one lover to prove my manhood. I have no children. I did not leave you, your mother, or your aunt, with six babies and a whole lotta love… And with white women it’s good” (Sears, 71). This quote shows that in a relationship with a black women he is constantly pressured to meet…show more content…
When contemplating Lidner’s proposal he says “Somebody tell me tell me who decides which women is supposed to wear pearls in this world. I tell you I am a man, my wife should wear some pearls” (Hansberry). Water is displeased with his situation that he cannot be the man in the family. The idea that a man must be the provider in his family and the failure to do so further emasculates the characters. This leads to their unhappiness and obstructs the goal for self-actualization. Moreover, just like Othello the environment that Walter is placed in also contributes to the notion of gender roles. In Walter’s family household Lena scolds Walter saying “Stand up and be a man” (Hansberry) Since Walter is the only adult man in the family, he must fit the gender role of what an adult man should be in the family, tough, provides, and persevering. Walter’s environment and family members all pressure him to meet expectations that Walter cannot meet. Both characters are pressured to be a man, with Walter it was his mother and with Othello its society and himself. Being pressured to be a man sets up unrealistic expectations that neither character can meet, thus leading to their
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