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Race in Othello and Titus Andronicus

Race in Othello and Titus Andronicus

Within both Titus Andronicus and Othello both by William Shakespeare the reader is introduced to the concept of a black man within a white society. Stigmas and stereotypes are attached to the black characters of Aaron and Othello. Although each black character has a similar stigma, the characters are very different from one another. Aaron is portrayed as evil, conniving and malevolent, while Othello has none of these traits. Othello’s fault lies in the fact that he is very gullible and easily led.

Aaron within Titus Andronicus is a character that is both bound and not bound to his colour. Though his actions can be “blamed” on his colour, there are two paths to follow in this thinking. First Aaron’s actions within the play can be blamed on the fact that he is black and as he is black, he is naturally a bad person as black people are stereotypically people prone to causing trouble and have black souls which match their outward appearance. This answer would have been acceptable within Shakespeare’s times, however it seems that it doesn’t fit with Othello as the villain in that play is a white man, who’s soul is nothing but pure evil. If one were going by the terms of colour dictates your soul, that would have made Iago a good man, and he definitely wasn’t a good man. The other way in which one could take Aaron’s misbehavior, which seems to be the more logical one is that his actions though are a result of his skin tone are not an inbred condition. His actions, deeds and thoughts are not dictated through his skin colour, but because of the ostracism and the hate he has felt through his life due to his skin colour he now has built up a resistance to the hate. By throwing hate ba…

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…what similar. Though both characters have similar stigmas attached to them they are very different from one another. The reaction to Aaron can be justified as he actually is an evil person and causes nothing but trouble. In the case of Othello, the reactions of the other characters are simply a projection of the stereotypes associated with the black man.

Works Cited

McLauchlan, Juliet. Shakespeare – Othello. London: Camelot Press Ltd. 1971

Wain, John. Shakespeare’s Othello – A Casebook. London: MacMillan Press. 1994

Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice” The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stanley Wells

Racism and Interracial Marriage in Othello

Racism and Interracial Marriage in Othello

Othello: The Moor of Venice is probably Shakespeare’s most controversial play. Throughout this work, there is a clear theme of racism, a racism that has become commonplace in Venetian society which rejects the marriage of Othello and Desdemona as anathema. The text expresses racism throughout the play within the language transaction of the dialogue to question the societal ethos established by Othello, thereby making him nothing less than a cultural “other.” Furthermore, the character of Desdemona is displayed as mad, or out of her wits, for marrying such an “other,” and the audience sees her slip from an angelic state of purity to that of a tainted character. Also, the menacing Iago, a mastermind of deviant rhetoric, is able to play Othello and Desdemona against one another until their marriage fails, while at the same time destroying his adversary and friend, Cassio. Thus Iago has a specific agenda, not only to get back at Othello for choosing Cassio instead of him, but also to make Cassio the victim of his plan to destroy the forbidden marriage referred to by Brabantio as a “treason of the blood” (1.2.166-167). Essentially, Iago is a representative of the white race, a pre-Nazi figure who tries to inform the public of the impurity of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage. He demonstrates how this miscegenation is threatening to the existing social order. Thus, through analysis of racism, the play represents the hatred possessed by mankind — a hate so strong that society sees the mixing with an “other” to be a curse to humanity and a terrible threat to Aryan culture.

The play is structured so that the climax, or rather the main premise of the play, appears near the beginning; al…

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Gardner, Helen. “The Noble Moor.” Annual Shakespeare Lecture of the British Academy: The Proceedings of the British Academy. Vol. 41.

Oxford University Press. London. 1955.

Given, Welker. A Further Study of the Othello: Have we misunderstood Shakespeare’s Moor?. The Shakespeare Press. New York, 1899.

Neill, Michael. “Unproper Beds: Race, Adultery, and the Hideous in Othello.” Critical Essays in Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony Gerard Barthelemy.

New York: G.K. Hall

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