Overt Racism In Othello

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When people of one race believe themselves to be superior to those of another, only catastrophe can result. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, racism was extremely prevalent, and white supremacy was much more pronounced. In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, both covert and overt racism, assimilation, and jealous dispositions all foreshadow the untimely death of Desdemona and Othello.
Most characters in Othello display both covert racism and overt racism towards Othello. In the beginning of the play, during the initial dialogue between Brabantio and Roderigo, the first references made of Othello are “his Moorship” and “the Moor,” which is echoed by most of the characters. Rather than referring to Othello by his name, they refer to
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Othello was born a Muslim Turkish Moor. When he was older, he was “taken by the insolent foe/ And sold to slavery” (Shakespeare 698). It was likely during this time he found his way into the white-dominated Europe, where he eventually had to procure his own freedom. After this, he joined the Venetian military and ascended to the rank of General. In this position, his main war is with “the Turkish fleet.” According to Derek Cohen, author of “Othello’s suicide,” Othello is used as a “willing instrument of white domination… against [the white society’s] black enemies.” Despite Othello being a Turkish Moor, Othello is fighting against his own people for benefit of the white culture, which contributes to his internal conflict. {Need to insert more evidence here.} At the end of the play, when Othello commits suicide, he goes into detail about him murdering “a malignant and turbanned Turk” who he calls a “circumcised dog.” While this placement of this anecdote may seem odd, Cohen argues that him mentioning killing the Turk as he killed himself brought “Othello into a definitive identification with his former victim,” and also mentions that since Othello was also a Moor, he “was circumcised, once wore a turban,” and possibly “‘traduced’ the Venetian state before becoming its servant.” With this, Othello is…show more content…
In the first act of the play, after Roderigo finds out that Othello married Desdemona, he carries out a dialogue with Iago about Iago’s discontentment with Othello, Roderigo comments, “What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe,/ If he can carry it thus!” With this, Roderigo shows his feelings of jealousy for Othello, basically stating that luck was on Othello’s side in getting Desdemona, but it will probably not last very long. In addition to this, Roderigo gives Brabantio large sums of money to Iago in order to try to get Desdemona from Othello. In addition to Roderigo’s jealousy, Iago’s jealousy of Cassio cascades to the point where he begins to manipulate Othello to want to kill Cassio, which ends up leading to the death of Desdemona. In the beginning, Iago details how he was passed up for a promotion by Othello. He expresses his jealousy for Cassio when he says that Othello “already chose [his] officer” who he calls “One Michael Cassio, a Florentine” who “never set a squadron in the field.” Iago believes he should have gotten the promotion because he had more military experience and training. After he gets Cassio drunk and dismissed from service, he devises a plan to manipulate Othello into believing he is cheating with Desdemona in order that Cassio never gets his position again or even killed. Iago also hears a rumor that Othello slept with his
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