Race and Racism in Othello

1781 words 8 pages
In What Way Would A Modern Audience React To The Way Race And Racism Is Portrayed In 'Othello'?

In the Sixteenth century, as we see clearly from Othello and other works of both Shakespeare and Cinthio's original version of Othello, race was a topic of great debate and discussion. Today, in the twenty-first century the debate retains its controversy and passion. However, attitudes towards race have taken a dramatic turn during the last century. In the developed world people are now living in an increasingly cosmopolitan society would undoubtedly be more tolerant and would reject or even be offended by racial discrimination to any person or sections of the community. Openly 'racist' people today are seen as outcasts. Taking this into
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This can be interpreted by an audience as Shakespeare suggesting that an 'evil moor', a Muslim can never be a true Christian. The deeply emotional journey that Shakespeare provides the audience with leading to Desdemona's death may, it can be argued, entice the audience to hate Othello. A modern audience would reject the idea of death being a punishment for sexual betrayal in any case. If the audience hates Othello in this way Shakespeare is condoning or even supporting the stereotype that eventually what will come out of the moor is his violent nature and all compassion will be gone because, as Laurence Lerner argues, it is the stuff from which Othello is made. A modern audience would then deplore how Shakespeare in Othello condones racial stereotyping.

However, I believe this interpretation to be incorrect. Othello is a soldier turned General with many victories under his belt. Rather than being proud he does stand out in many productions of Othello as a cultural and colourfully dressed person. There is evidence that shows how humble Othello is. Before speaking to the Duke and Barbantio he apologises,

"...Rude am I in my speech,

And little blessed with the soft phrase of speech."

Believing he has lost Desdemona he questions himself which result in the speech,

"...Haply I am black

And

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