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Race and Loyalty in Othello

Race and Loyalty in Othello

William Shakespeare`s Othello is centralized around the conflicts that are, for the most part, tied in with racial issues and questions of loyalty. These conflicts stem from the society that encompass the couple, as well as from the couple themselves. Indeed the couple are entrenched in different social strata, class and ethnicity. The female protagonist is the daughter of a highly-respected Venetian senator: Brabantio. Othello--also known as the Moor--is a foreigner, black in color, has a past filled with tragic and exotic tales and has proved himself worthy of the title General in the Venetian army.

Even before we, as an audience, have had a chance to meet Othello and Desdemona we learn that the match is considered as disgusting as it is outrageous. From the very beginning everyone and everything seem to work against them, but in the hope that love will conquer all we do not allow ourselves to despair as yet. Perhaps similar to the way in which Romeo and Juliet are famously bequeathed to be ‘star-crossed lovers’ on the onset of the play. Our assumption of Othello and Desdemona are met in the first act. After having explained why they love each other the world seems to accept this alliance.

But Brabantio`s comment informs the reader that not everything is as it seem:

(I.iii.293-4) "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see

She has deceived her father and ma...

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...on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994. (page 1-19)

Bloom, Harold. "Introduction" Modern Critical Interpretations, Othello Ed. Harold Bloom, Pub. Chelsea House New Haven CT 1987. (1-6)

Jones, Eldred. "Othello- An Interpretation" Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994. (page 39-55)

Neely, Carol. "Black and White in Othello" Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994. (page 68-90)

Snyder, Susan. "The Issue of Race in Othello" Modern Critical Interpretations, Othello Ed. Harold Bloom, Pub. Chelsea House New Haven CT 1987. (page 23-37)
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