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Analysis of William Shakespeare's Othello

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Justin Mathew
Professor Whalen
British Literature
2 November 2014
Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Othello
Shakespeare’s Othello is a play that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Filled with jealousy and resentment stemming from the lies of one man, this story has audiences questioning the decisions of everyone involved. Othello, the play’s protagonist, is the general of the Venetian army. He is married to Desdemona, the daughter of a high-class senator of Venice. In the book, a term used for Othello is the “moor.” This term means that he is of African descent. Desdemona is white. The fact that Othello is of dark complexion is a topic of great discussion among the audience of this tragedy, and it will also be what I will be discussing for this paper. It is my belief that race within Othello is important, but not that important due to the way Othello defied the prejudice and stood for what he believed as any person should do.
We start off Act 1 with the villain of the play, Iago, Othello’s ensign (right-hand man in the army), and Roderigo, a man Iago promises will have Desdemona’s heart if he follows the villain’s instructions, as they discuss Othello and some military decisions that he made. Right from the start, in lines 43-67, Iago claims his loyalty to his general is only a show, and that by pretending to serve Othello, he will ultimately get what he wants. Iago states the first of many reasons for his hatred towards Othello because Othello hired another man, Michael Cassio, as his Lieutenant.   Although not directly stated, Othello’s race could also have something to do with the fact that Iago hates Othello and does not find it in himself to serve him as his lord.   The first racial slur comes from Roderigo soon after in line 68 where he calls Othello the “Thick-Lips.” The two then go on to wake up Barbantio, Desdemona’s father, in the middle of the night to inform him that his daughter is missing and of the secret marriage that has taken place...

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