Othello, by William Shakespeare

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During the time of Othello, racism was an accepted part of public life. People of color were accused of crimes and constantly blamed for society’s problems. In a time period when ethnic minorities were unimportant and merely ignored, a black man named Othello rises, and has a position as a general who is trusted and respected by his white leaders. Shakespeare’s representation of Othello in the book was revolutionary. Othello was the perfect example of power, which was not a normal presentation of African Americans. By making Othello a black leader, it rebelled the stereotyped norms of a black character, usually being the bad guy in books. Despite all the false allegations stating that Shakespeare is racist, Othello emphasizes the author’s insight into human equality through jealousy, revenge, and the use of prejudice.
One of the main characters, Iago, who is Othello’s advisor and standard-bearer, also plays the role of a racist and jealous villain. He despises Othello, because he passed him up for a promotion to be lieutenant. Iago’s villainous character is only made more clear when he is willing to make grotesque, racist comments about the leader he has always adored. “I hate the Moor: And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets, He has done my office” (I.iii.429-31). Iago expresses such deep hatred toward Othello, because he heard a rumor that he and his wife Emilia have a relationship. He does not know whether the rumor is true or not, but this is the perfect, socially accepted justification to ruin Othello’s life. Iago lets his jealousy take over through his actions in the book. As Edward Washington points out in his article, At the Door of Truth: The Hollowness of Signs in Othello, “The jealousy that Iago grafts on Oth...

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... that his daughter wasn’t forced into marrying Othello, he believed that he used witchcraft on her. It is apparent that this quote is racist, because he is stating that it’s impossible for Desdemona to fall in love with a moor, unless some witchcraft was used. Also, he explains that a black man has nothing to offer a white woman, even a noble soldier like Othello.
William Shakespeare has once again accomplished great achievements in his writing, but makes it clear that his understanding of human nature and morality was much greater than those of his time, and even much later. His implications of prejudice, both regarding race and gender, were to bring attention to the realities of his society and make a statement. Shakespeare made it clear that he didn’t agree with the way his society thought, and shocked many by creating a protagonist of African-American descent.
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