Society’s conception of good and evil is black and white; however, Shakespeare switches these roles in Othello. Doing so, Shakespeare is able establish that society ignorant to racism that constantly surrounds them. Thus, race does play a role in Othello.
It seems like other characters are jealous of his personality, characteristics, and high rank, which might be the result of the existing racism. I thought it was also interesting that Othello and Desdemona secretly eloped. Brabanzio did not explicitly portray racism towards Othello, instead he accused him for using magic on his daughter and wanted him charged with using witchcraft methods. His racism towards Othello is blatantly clear but it is implicitly conveyed. During the time period and context of the play I would of thought there would be a visible social and class divide between Caucasian’s and African American’s.
Similar to many other people of his time, Iago would have had little or no racial tolerance for others, and thereby saw Othello as an outcast that had risen to success which is a factor contributing to another of his reasons for hatred, jealousy. From the very first act of this play, and indeed the very first scene, Iago hurls racial insults at Othello, an example of which is ...very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe (I, i, 89-90) - A statement that has both racist and vulgar connotations, as well as referring to Othello as a Barbary horse (I, i, 112) - Which is degrading him to the level of a filth...
With clear references to Othello’s ‘thick lips’ and ‘old black ram’ being linked very closely to his portrayal and respect that he has in this play. The argument that has disputed the involvement of either all white or all black characters, but I believe that it is important to keep the cast the way Shakespeare wrote it because of the clear divide and isolation it makes it commendable and stimulating. It could be argued that Shakespeare was indeed creating racial difference or that he was allowing Othello’s personal flaws to instead create his isolated and jealous breakdown. Othello is presented as having inherent bravery and virtue, yet he is corrupted and ironically ‘blackened’ by Iago the white male character whose manipulative lies and deception eventually destroy him. Othello’s last obituary is resonant and controlled.
Brabantio also showed disdain toward Othello partially because of his color and because he felt betrayed toward him. Ethnic minorities in the Elizabethan Age were treated much differently than the whites during the time and the same goes for “The Tragedy of Othello.” The similarities between the two indicate how realistic Shakespeare incorporated the realistic time period that he was in and put it into his stories. It also shows that ethnic minorities were considered different and of lower class compared to the white race otherwise known as the superior race at the time. A distinct view of racism against ethnic minorities is mainly against Othello. He was a well respected general even though he was a Moor (a person of African descent).
After the conquest of the Moors throughout Europe most Europeans had come to dislike them. By creating Othello as a black Moor it made it very easy for Shakespeare to create characters with racist beliefs and in turn it was easy to create a play in which racism played a key role. Othello is constantly subjected to the racism within Venetian society. As he is more and more exposed to it, he effectively embodies the stereotypes that the people give him (Adelman 125). Shakespeare had his own personal beliefs about racism, and he transferred those beliefs into Othello.
It discusses the racial issues and how doing the wrong thing is characterized as right or as being civilized. It demonstrates how society can ignore their own faults because they're common, and become very hypocritical. The salve owners thought there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, that they were such good people because it was common for people to own slaves then. Society had to know that this was wrong, because even Huck could figure out that slavery and racism was wrong even when society showed that it was okay to degrade human beings. Huck found a friend in Jim and that's all that matter to him.
After Brabantio accuses Othello of using magic on Desdemona, Othello ignores these racist attacks, remains calm, and suggests they talk about the matter rather than resorting to violence (1.2). The Duke is so impressed by Othello 's presentation that he says to Brabantio, "If virtue no delighted beauty lack, / Your son-in-law is far more fair than black" (1.3.284-85). Regardless of the racism present in the comment, the Duke acknowledges that Othello possesses some of the qualities of a civilized man. For a time, all that makes Othello "the Moor" is the color of his skin; apart from that, he demonstrates the qualities of a noble Venetian. `It is actually quite remarkable how much Othello, a foreigner, has integrated himself into Venetian society; he is of the utmost importance to the well-being of the state and he holds the respect of the Senate.