William Shakespeare’s tragic play Othello was written in 18th century England. Influenced by the ideas of the Renaissance and Enlightenment period, the tragedy was not so much man’s resistance to destiny. In subtle ways, the play points to nuances of racism and feminism from its characters.
William Shakespeare’s Othello is a general and thus also a man of power. His downfall comes when Iago manipulates him into believing that Desdemona is having an affair with his trusted aid Cassio.
He ends up killing his wife and committing suicide after finding out that Iago’s accusations were lies. Even in these animalistic remarks, one sees the racist attacks because Iago despises Othello’s marriage to Desdemona.
She displays extreme loyalty to Othello. As his new bride, she realizes that her duty as a wife is much more important than that of a daughter. She implies this as she tells her father Brabantio,“I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband,/ And so much duty as my mother show’d To you, preferring you before her father.
” (Act I Scene III).
Later, she does not show anger at Othello’s false accusations. Rather, she wonders what and who could have given him an idea of such misdeed. Even at the scene before her murder, she tries to reason with Othello as she steadfastly denies having committed adultery with Cassio. Reviving temporarily after Othello smothers her, she tries not to implicate him in the murder by telling Emilia that she had killed herself.
Desdemona’s relationship with her husband Othello takes a more humanist form. Despite the generalship of Othello, she respects and loves him more for being her husband. Interestingly, she claims that she fell in love with him because of his stories and thus this was not in an effort to marry into power. The most basic reason for her tragic end is the triumph of Iago and Othello’s evil side.
Her death becomes the consequence of Othello’s human defeat. Her acceptance of her death near the ending of the play was also symbolic of her extreme love and loyalty to Othello. It was a loyalty that seemed carried too far. Whatever gave her the idea that she needed to protect Othello all throughout pointed to nuances on the issue of feminism.
Desdemona, despite her intelligence and strength, is fierce in her loyalty to Othello. As his new bride, she realizes that her duty as a wife is much more important than that of a daughter. She implies this as she tells her father Brabantio, “I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband,/ And so much duty as my mother show’dTo you, preferring you before her father.” Later, she does not show anger at Othello’s false accusations.
Rather, she wonders what and who could have given him an idea of such misdeed. Even at the scene before her murder, she tries to reason with Othello as she steadfastly denies having committed adultery with Cassio. Reviving temporarily after Othello smothers her, she tries not to implicate him in the murder by telling Emilia that she had killed herself.There is lack of trust, racism and labeling of people in the play.
Man’s belief that a particular person, for instance, is bad is fortified and reinforced as he looks out for these qualities that would all the more emphasized his beliefs. Thus, when Iago tries to convince himself that Othello is a beast who effectively covers up his true identity, then, that is what he searches for in Othello.”Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / Is tuping your white ewe” (1.1.
89-90). He continues with, “you’ll have your daughter cover’d with a Barbary horse; / you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; / you’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans” (1.1.110-114).
He says to Brabantio that “your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs” (1.1.117-118). There is deviousness in plans as seen in these dialogues.
Although one could argue that Iago resents Othello’s being a Moor, whom he and There are references to “the Moor”, “the thick-lips”, “an old black ram”, and “a Barbary horse” (Shakespeare, 1604, p.1), it is not so much the reason for his actions as evident in the variety of Iago’s victims which includes his very own wife. Subtle nuances about racism even in animals such as seen in the old black ram.He does not hate Othello for being a Moor per se.
What makes him do all he that are feelings of resentment, for Othello chose Cassio over him. Evident are the pangs of envy, for Othello leads a good life, which Iago sees as too good for him to deserve. He is simply being his natural evil, for he seems to be delighted in manipulating and plotting circumstances, regardless of repercussions to the person it was directed to. One observes this from the way he speaks to the audience and from the behavior he manifests at this point as he boasts of his carefully designed plans.
He even asks maliciously after revealing his evil plans to the audience, “And what’s he then that says I play the villain,” (Shakespeare, 1604, p. 2).In the end, during that scene when Othello finally kills himself, he is actually killing the ‘turbaned Turk’ who ‘beat a Venetian and traduced the state’ (V, ii, 349-50). He tries to snuff out the life of Iago’s mental poison.
When Othello finally kills himself and says he is killing the ‘turbaned Turk’ who ‘beat a Venetian and traduced the state’ (V, ii, 349-50), he is killing the monster he became through Iago’s mental poison, but he is also killing the only ethnic and racial other of the play. To be more precise, he is killing that self who is the other, the Turk or the Moor, as an act of Venetian patriotism. (168)Works CitedShakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice.
Retrieved May 10, 2008<https://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/playmenu.php?WorkID=othello>Shakespeare, William.
1604. Othello, Play Script-Text. Retrieved May 10, 2008 https://www.william-shakespeare.info/script-text-othello.htm.
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