The most obvious way of being an outsider in Othello is through being
a foreigner, and a non-Venetian. Othello and Cassio are both outsiders
in this sense, Othello is a black man, a "Moor", and Cassio is a
"Florentine". Othello begins in Venice, in Shakespeare's time the
great commercial centre of the western world. Venice was the place of
great hustle and bustle, merchants and tradesmen from other lands were
commonplace, and yet we see throughout the play how Othello and Cassio
are ridiculed. Cassio is degraded as he is from Florence; Iago calls
him "a great arithmetician". As Florence was known throughout Europe
for it's banking activities, this is an insult aimed especially at a
Florentine. Othello is scorned because he is a black man, called a
"lascivious Moor" and a "wheeling stranger" by Roderigo.
Cassio is a noble man of good "breeding" and manners. His behaviour
and language is consistent with the upper classes of society. This is
why when he loses his position alongside Othello through being drunk,
he feels devastated - "I have lost the immortal part of myself, and
what remains is bestial" says Cassio, speaking of his reputation.
Without this reputation, Cassio feels as if he has degraded himself.
Cassio then becomes an outsider in another way because his only form
of communication is through Desdemona, and he must sneak around in
order for a 'chance' to regain his position of lieutenant.
Othello is perhaps the character with the most reasons to feel like an
outsider. In the very first scene, before we have even met Othello or
heard his name, we are struck by the prejudiced and crude refe...
... middle of paper ...
... gentleman - "'tis
my breeding that gives me this bold show of courtesy" says Cassio,
unintentionally implying that Iago lacks his manners, he is told by
Othello to "disembark my coffers". This continuously vexes Iago and is
perhaps the reason that sparks his entire plan.
I completely agree that Othello is a tragedy of outsiders. Each
character is isolated in one form or another, and each has
difficulties. This has probably affected communication and lessened
discussion between the characters. Iago's plan has been made easier by
the fact that each character is an outsider and lack of communication
between the characters.
This is perhaps what makes Othello such a successful tragedy, that it
is only when Desdemona is killed that the barriers between the
characters break down and they realise Iago's simple scheme.
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