How Does Othello 's View On The Color Of His Skin Affect The Racial And Social Tensions Between Him

851 Words Dec 7th, 2015 4 Pages
How does Othello’s view on the color of his skin affect the racial and social tensions between him and the other characters? What does it mean that Shakespeare uses a Moor as a protagonist?

In Elizabethan society race played a prominent role in social status and the relationship between people. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, race is key in understanding the complex relationships between characters. The work Othello was based on a story by Giraldi Cinthios, Tale of a Moor, which was a mellow drama about a moor and his doubts about his wife 's fidelity. In Shakespeare 's play the Othello is convinced by his “friend” and aid Iago that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful, Iago’s jealousy is motivated in part by Othello’s choice to promote Cassio and also by the praise Othello receives even while being a Moor. So what does it mean that Shakespeare chose to use a moor as the protagonist? To answer this question we have to explore the use of the term Moor and blackness in the play, including connotation as well as denotation. Othello may be connected with the Moors who stayed in Spain after the fall of Granada in 1492 until 1609, or with the people of ‘Barbary’ in North Africa. Iago calls Othello a ‘Barbary horse’ (1.1.110), referring to the famous horses of the Arab world, but also playing on the associations of ‘barbarian’ with paganism and savagery. Shakespeare could have known of Moors in 1600, when an ambassador from Barbary came to London to discuss a possible…

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