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Racism and Jealousy in Othello by William Shakespeare

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Racism and jealousy are the most powerful and the most illustrated concepts in

drama. Shakespeare presents man’s horrible truth in this work, and this is made

clear through the use of jealousy and race as the most notable themes present in the


About the Play

Othello, the Moor of Venice, is a tragic play written by William Shakespeare in 1603.

The story is about a Moorish general in the Venetian army called Othello and his

disloyal ensign called Iago. During a sequence of events, the reader finds out how

Iago reacted against Othello out of jealousy and how he even tricked him into

suspecting that his wife is treacherous and she had committed adultery.

Historical Context

A Moor was a Muslim of mixed Arab and Berber descent. The term has been used

to refer in general to Muslims of North Africa and Muslim conquerors of Spain.

Othello’s identity as a Moor is associated with Berbers who were, from an archaic

European perspective, barbaric, illiterate, and good in being used in servitude

under white man’s property. However, Shakespeare presents an African who

negates these stereotypical views, deviating from the norm and denoting that

African men are civil and capable of being successful leaders.


Within the play, a wide range of racial images are incorporated with each other.

And it is very crucial to realize why some intense racist words and actions were

taking place in each scene.

Othello’s unforgivable fault, as a black, was marrying a gorgeous white woman and

being a successful soldier. He was a victim of racial prejudices, and his

vulnerability to being manipulated by villain Iago, since the latter is aware that

Othello is already affected by the matter of race and marginalization.

Hence, his sacred marriage is doomed by ending out as soon as possible since it

was unacceptable neither from the father of Othello's wife nor from society.

furthermore, Iago's jealousy and hatred grew up to lead him to prepare a way to

revenge on Othello and to destroy him.

1. The contrast of the skin color between Othello and his wife is very prominent. For

instance, she is called “fair Desdemona”; while Othello is mentioned as “black

Othello” to refer to the evil and sadness. In addition, Iago’s white skin is ironically

paradoxical with his real being and with the stereotypes that represent white as the

color of purity and innocence.

2. The use of bestial language in the the description reveals that Othello is savage

like an animal, and it is unnatural for someone like him to marry a cute, fair, and

innocent woman.

Shakespeare on the one hand represents the pair black and white, which are the

equal form of evil and good, respectively, as the old culture's conception.

However, he ironically refutes this by proving the whites cunning and the black's

hard work and fidelity.

On the other hand, the play is about to denounce racism, jealousy and hatred and

their tragic outcomes on human beings as well as the community as a whole.

© 2021 Kiwi Berry

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