Racism In Shakespeares’s Othello
The superiority of one race to another race caused racism in different eras among different societies, especially these people had been judged by their facial features and color of the skin. Throughout history, light complexions were considered as superior over the darker color. Therefore, darker complexions communities had been through slavery, dicrimination, and hatred. They were treated as second class citizens in various countries. In Shakespeares’s act, Othello, racism had been discussed by the playwright that caused obstacles and prejudiced towards its main character, Othello.
In this act, racism dragged Iago towards jealousy that made him to make evil plans in order to destroy Othello’s life.
First of all, Iago could not tolerate Othello’s choice due to his race and considered him incapable. Othello had the command of the military and he had the power to promote his soldiers’ rank. Therefore, Cassio was raised to the position of general’s second in command by Othello. This was not acceptable for Iago that a person with a black complexion had given the power to choose his soldier’s rank and according to him, Cassio had no ability for this position and the decision taken by Othello was based on favoritism.
When Iago was walking in the streets of Venice with Roderigo, Iago mentioned, ‘Despise me If I do not. Three great ones of the city. Off-capped to him, and by the faith of man. I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.
But he (as loving his own pride and purposes). Evades them with a bombast circumstance. Horribly stuffed with epithets of war, And in conclusion. Nonsuits my mediators. For ‘Certes, ‘ says he, ‘I have already chose my officer.’ And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine (A fellow almost damned in a fair wife) That never set a squadron in the field, Nor the division of a battle knows. More than a spinsterunless the bookish theoric.’ (I.i.10-25). He was furious on Othello for selecting Michael Cassio instead of him, because he thought himself more deserving and more skillful than Cassio. In his opinion, Cassio was a weak person with less experience in battles and he has no ability to control his own wife.
He considered it as an unfair selection by a black complexion person. For this reason, he further said to Roderigo, when he asked him that he should quit following him, but in response to this, Iago said, ‘Why, there’s no remedy. ’Tis the curse of service. Preferment goes by letter and affection, And not by old gradation, where each second Stood heir to th’ first. Now sir, be judge yourself, Whether I in any just term am affined. To love the Moor.’ (I.i.40). Iago described his feelings regarding Othello that he was not loyal to an African man and he is using Othello for his own personal benefits. Taking advantage of him was his only affiliation. Racism made Iago jealous of Othello’s rank and stand and he was seeking personal interests in him.
Furthermore, Iago was jealous of Othello’s white wife. Othello had a beautiful wife from other ethnicity that loved him unconditionally, but Othello was from another race, which made him ineligible in the eyes of the society for having her in her life. She left her father for the sake of Othello and got married to him.
For this reason, Iago could not bear it and made evil plans in order to destroy their relationship. He started shouting outside of Desmondea’s father and told him about his daughter that, ‘Even now, now, very now, an old black ram. Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise, Awake the snorting citizens with the bell. Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. Arise, I say!’ (I.i.90). Iago informed Desmondea’s father about her marriage with commenting racists remarks on him like her white and beautiful lamp, got married with a black ram without his knowledge. He wanted to provoke Desmondea’s father against Othello and he is reminding him Othello’s ethnicity. Othello was called as a black ram to make him look like a rebel and beast. Additionally, Iago became hypocrites and went to Othello in order to present himself as a loyal, sympathetic and honest friend of him. Iago informed Othello about Desmondea’s cheating and affair with Cassio.
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