Theme Of Racism In Othello

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Defining Racism To properly lay out the issue of racism in the play it is desirable to know how the term itself is defined. The Oxford English Dictionary explains Racism as follows: A belief that one’s own racial or ethnic group is superior, or that other such groups represent a threat to one 's cultural identity, racial integrity, or economic well-being; (also) a belief that the members of different racial or ethnic groups possess specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities, which can be compared and evaluated. Hence: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of other racial or ethnic groups. This definition raises another issue, namely that we need to know what an ethnic group is. The German sociologist Matthias Rompel characterizes an ethnic group by means of the belief in a collective, background, collective history and collective customs, all leading to the development of a group identitiy (cf. Rompel 657). Important aspects to note here are the characteristics of different ethnic groups that play an important role throughout the drama. Othello’s Role in Venetian Society If we take the textbook definition of ethnic groups and apply it to Othello and the Venetian society it is striking that he lacks a lot of features when compared to the “regular” Venetian society: no common background nor history and no shared customs. Therefore, not only his skin color sets him apart, but also his origin from another ethnic group, opening all kinds of
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