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The Character of Othello

Powerful Essays
The Character of Othello

Shakespeare's Othello is not simply a play which embodies the conflict between insider and outsider. The paradigm of otherness presented in this play is more complicated than the conclusion, "Othello is different; therefore, he is bad." Othello's character is to be revered. He is a champion among warriors; an advisor among councilmen; a Moor among Venetians. Yes, Othello is a Moor, but within the initial configuration of the play, this fact is almost irrelevant. His difference is not constructed as “otherness.” Othello, by his nature, is not an “otherized” character. Besides being the dark-skinned Moor, Othello varies in no real way from the other characters in the play. Further, Othello and Iago can be seen as two sides of the same destructive coin. With Iago as a foil and subversive adversary, Othello is not faulted for the indiscretions he commits. It is the invention and projection of otherness by various characters in the play, especially Iago, which set the stage for the tragedy of dissimilarity which is to ensue.

Continually confronted with his difference, and apparently associated inferiority, Othello eventually ingests and manifests this difference in a violent rage against the symbol and defining emblem of his otherness, Desdemona. Yet, who is to blame? Which character is redeemed through our sympathy so that another can be condemned? Othello, the dark-skinned murdering Moor, himself. The separation of his otherness from explicit and innate evil contrasted with Iago's free-flowing and early-established taste for revenge and punishment, alleviates Othello from responsibility. Surely, Othello has wronged and is to be held reprehensible--with his death--but even this is a self-infli...

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Bloom, Harold. "Introduction" Modern Critical Interpretations, Othello Ed. Harold Bloom, Pub. Chelsea House New Haven CT 1987.

C. W. Slights. "Slaves and Subjects in Othello," Shakespeare Quarterly v48 Winter 1997: 382.

J. Adelman. "Iago's Alter Ego: Race as Projection in Othello," Shakespeare Quarterly v48 Summer 1997: 130.

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

Neely, Carol. "Women and Men in Othello" Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994.

Norman Sanders, ed. Othello. Cambridge: New York, 1995: 12.

Snyder, Susan. "Beyond the Comedy: Othello" Modern Critical Interpretations, Othello Ed. Harold Bloom, Pub. Chelsea House New Haven CT 1987.
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