Theme Of Race In Othello

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Othello 's race does not greatly influence his downfall in the play. He maintains that while Shakespeare touches upon the issue of race, the cause of Othello 's demise lies elsewhere. However, the implications of race in the play directly lead to its tragic ending; it is this issue that impels the characters to set the tragedy in motion. Brabantio would agree to the union of Othello and Desdemona if it were not for Othello 's blackness. Roderigo could never be motivated to pursue Desdemona were it not for his belief that their relationship is unnatural. By far the most significant racism is Othello 's own, racism that Iago brings to the surface by playing upon Othello 's racial insecurities. Finally, racism serves as Iago 's primary cause in…show more content…
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. In addition to his political career, his private life is joined with Venetian society when he marries Desdemona. No longer an outsider, Othello has become everything that "the Moor" cannot be, appearing "far more fair than black" (1.3.285). Yet in the midst of racism, this cannot endure. Something happens that puts Othello in his place as "the…show more content…
It is no coincidence that Iago manipulates racial issues to feed the tragedy, for he too is motivated by racism. Granted, Iago has strong feelings of personal inadequacy and is envious of the love shared between the Moor and Desdemona. Surely, Othello is not the only happily married man in Venice. Why, then, does Iago seek to destroy Othello? It might be argued that it is because Othello passed him up for the lieutenancy, but becoming lieutenant is not Iago 's ultimate aim; once he gains the position, he still seeks the complete destruction of Othello. Besides, Iago 's "cause is hearted”, and runs deeper than professional jealousy (1.3.362). Iago feels deeply compelled to destroy Othello 's happiness because, in Iago 's eyes, Othello is "the Moor" and should therefore embody the societal position of "the Moor”. For Iago, the status of "the Moor" is not one of respect, dignity, and prosperity; it is one of separateness, inferiority, and lack. When he says that "nothing can or shall content [his] soul / Till [he] is evened with [the Moor], wife for wife" (2.1.298-99), we cannot take him literally, because Iago makes no attempt to court Desdemona. Rather, Iago 's words are no more than one of his mysterious puns, since "wife for wife”, can
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