“Othello” and the Discourse of “Orientalism” Essay

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“Othello” and the Discourse of “Orientalism” European distrust of alien cultures was a common thing during 1604. In “Orientalism”, Edward Said analyze the Orientalism as the source of the false cultural representations that are the foundation of Western thought towards the East, and how the West identifies the East in his book “Orientalism”. We can use Said’s theory to better understand “Othello” as a good example of an Orientalist play. Furthermore, Othello does simultaneously critique and uphold Orientalist discourses of Moors that circulated in Elizabethan England. From the ancient Greeks to the present, Edward Said has write about the European culture partially defined itself in opposite way of the Orient.(Said 1-2) In the early17th century English attitudes toward non-whites were mostly shaped by the government's policies or by exotic stories brought back by travelers overseas. This is pronounced well by Edward Said who, in his book on “Orientalism”, emphasized the idea of western attraction by the orient as being “a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes.” (Said 1) The term “Moor” was resulting from the name of the country Mauritania but was used to refer to Africans, for non-whites or Muslims of any origin. North and West Africans living in Elizabethan England were commonly singled out for their unusual dress, behavior and customs and were commonly referred to as devils or villains. The literary tradition of portraying "black-faced" men as wicked has encompassed a time span from the Middle Ages, through and beyond the sixteenth century (Hunter 1967: 142). In 1601 Queen Elizabeth deported Moor, she concerns about their irregular behavior and afraid that allowing them to stay in England would lead to overpopulation. Instead, the Elizabethan portrait of the dark-skinned obviously established them as a bestial force, dangerous
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