Othello’s racial identity: Philip butcher Written in 1604- Jacobean period (king james) James was seen as impotent and prevaricating Corrupted appointed his favourite people Critics Machiavelli idea of politics: figure of prince is corrupt (Iago) Context- Race Colonised- mid 16 th century. Philip Butcher writes in an article titled: “Othello’s Racial Identity” published in the Folger … Alienation in Shakespeare’s text is illustrated in Othello whose North African heritage alienates him from the wider community diminishing his self-worth. Racial Discrimination In Othello 803 Words | 4 Pages. The Spanish applied the term Moor to people of Arabian, Syrian and African descent without regard for … Othello's Racial Identity Determining for sure what race Othello belonged to is no simple task. In the Renaissance age, any classification in a racial sense was very different than that of ours. Othello was written some time between 1600 and 1605. His insecurity only grows from this scene and his doubts about his wife consume him. His racial identity propels him to believe that he is the lesser man. Othello, an African man who is discriminated against through racial stigma is a prime example of Shakespeare’s opposition to such social prejudices. Shakespeare Quarterly (SQ) is a leading journal in Shakespeare studies, publishing highly original, rigorously researched essays, notes, and book reviews. The lines quoted above have been taken from one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated tragedies, Othello and reflect the eponymous character’s utter devotion to his wife Desdemona, which the reader continually questions in reading the play. For terms and use, please refer to our Terms and Conditions With a personal account, you can read up to 100 articles each month for free. In 1997, the white actor Patrick Stewart played Othello in an otherwise all-black production; a more recent staging featured black actors as both Othello and Iago. How does it effect how others perceive him?-Is he protrayed differently as a black man? While Othello's status as a non-white outsider is a major element of Shakespeare's play, his specific racial identity has been debated by scholars for centuries. In the realm of Shakespearean drama, Othello, the Moor of Venice offers a prime example of racial Otherness. Whatever the precise details of Othello’s racial and religious identity , they are clearly enough to provoke anxiety when Iago torments Brabantio by referring to Othello as “an old black ram” (1.1.) Highlights of a debate held on Sunday 9 August 2015 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. One of the most frequently produced Shakespearean dramas in America, Othello inspired a history reflective of societal struggles to assert citizens’ rights in the face of racism and legalized slavery. The differences of opinion centre around exactly what the Bard intended by his use of the term “Moor” in describing his character’s ethnicity and racial identity. Race and racial differences can kill. Shakespeare Quarterly While the original meaning of Othello’s blackness has grown obscure, the provocative and timeless nature of the play’s subject matter make it fit for countless interpretations as notions of racial identity continue to evolve. Before the reader is ever given a clue about the identity of Othello, there are only the images of animals and beasts. He becomes the victim of a seemingly honest white character, Iago in the play. Answer Save. In an time were ethnic minorities were so unimportant that they were almost ignored, a black man rises and has a position of a general in Venice, and is a well respected and trusted by his white leaders. Black people became prevalent in 1554 Shakespeare’s designation of Othello as a moor is quite ambiguous. Published for the Folger Shakespeare Library by Oxford University Press, SQ is peer-reviewed and extremely selective. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, racism is certainly featured throughout the play. (III. Even when the play is titled The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, the ethnic origin of the main protagonist remains ambiguous.. Othello views his own racial identity as undesirable, and it is this lack of confidence in himself that allows Iago to persuade him that Desdemona is cheating on him. Racial prejudice against the outsiders existed during the Elizabethan Age and Shakespeare attempted to create a parallel world in his tragedy Othello, The Moor of Venice where he captures a wide array of reactions towards a Black Muslim by the white majority Christians in Venice. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, racism is certainly featured throughout the play. It has become familiar to millions through a diverse publishing program that includes scholarly works in all academic disciplines, bibles, music, school and college textbooks, business books, dictionaries and reference books, and academic journals. His race and colour are his vulnerability and Othello is not able to survive when Iago strikes there. Magritte. Othello belongs to the out group and once he has been isolated, he is weak and defenceless. Access supplemental materials and multimedia. Immediately recognised is the theme of racism with the subtitle’s reference to the protagonist Othello’s identity as the ‘Moor of Venice’ and he is seen as the only black man in a European society. Despite this, Shakespeare ultimately allows Othello to succumb to the subtle racism that surrounds him. Brabantio accuses Othello of witchcraft and wonders how, “against all rules of nature” his lovely daughter could have fallen “in love with that what she feared to look on” (I.iii.98). Identity is a social construction defined through socio-symbolic systems within a culture – by looking at how the image is formed via language within Othello it helps us to understand how racialize identities are formed across Western culture and history. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. As Iago’s plotting turns people against Othello, the latter’s color, and a fear of miscegenation fueled by Iago and his allies, causes Othello to take on racist attributes, including irrational behavior and uncontrollable rage. 15 “Swounds sir…jennes for germans” (Reader) How is Barbary It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. In Othello , Shakespeare explores factors that play an important role in the formations of one's identity – race, gender, social status, family relationships, military service, etc. In addition to Othello’s identity, Philip Butcher writes in an article titled: ‘Othello’s Racial Identity’ published in the Folger Shakespeare library that the Moors entered Spain in force from Morocco in 711. While the original meaning of Othello’s blackness has grown obscure, the provocative and timeless nature of the play’s subject matter make it fit for countless interpretations as notions of racial identity continue to evolve. -Is he protrayed differently as a black man? © 1952 Oxford University Press Directed by Carys Kresny and starring Eric Ways and Tommy Favorite, Blood Knot will open on Monday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m., with a second performance Thursday, Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. Roderigo, in his deep malice and envy against Othello, calls him as “the thick-lips.”It may refer to Othello’s possibly African feature. interaction among various races appear within English literature, the vault of new beginnings and change takes hold. SHAKESPEARE IN BLACK AND WHITE A Contextualization of Moorish Identity and Racial Stereotypes in Othello – the Moor of Venice Othello is also concerned with how an individual's sense of identity (which can break down and be manipulated by others) shapes his or her actions. Race provides the most prominent catalyst for the conflicts that become evident in the play. It currently publishes more than 6,000 new publications a year, has offices in around fifty countries, and employs more than 5,500 people worldwide. Highlights of a debate held on Sunday 9 August 2015 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. He wholeheartedly believes Desdemona is cheating on him ultimately sealing his demise. Check out using a credit card or bank account with. -How much do other characters focus on Othello's race? Select the purchase OTHELLO'S RACIAL IDENTITY 245 Foh! Briefly, this is revealed through Othello and his identification of himself through Desdemona. Identity (Click the themes infographic to download.) Othello identity is threatened because he no longer feels he … Theme of Racial identity in Othello..? Othello (/ oʊˈθɛloʊ /) is a character in Shakespeare 's Othello (c. 1601–1604). THE ETHNICITY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S character, Othello is still debated amongst some Shakespeareans. or as a soldier? Othello is given both an ascription and an identification in the very first scene of Shakespeare’s work. Racial identity in Othello!!!!!? thank you all The essays in our published pages span the field, including scholarship about new media and early modern race, textual and theater history, ecocritical and posthuman approaches, psychoanalytic and other theories, and archival and historicist work. “And when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.” (Othello, Act III, Scene iii.Lines 91-92 Othello, W. Shakespeare). Shakespeare presents the crisis of identity first by contrasting Othello’s trust of Iago and his Read Online (Free) relies on page scans, which are not currently available to screen readers. In an time were ethnic minorities were so unimportant that they were almost ignored, a black man rises and has a position of a general in Venice, and is a well respected and trusted by his white leaders. Iago’s plot is a cruel play of ostracism and racial discrimination. To access this article, please, Access everything in the JPASS collection, Download up to 10 article PDFs to save and keep, Download up to 120 article PDFs to save and keep. Othello therefore defines why it is important to critically explore the discursive production of identity and helps to explain how inscriptions of racial difference are formed and indoctrinated. iii. The published journal is available in print and online. It may seem surprising for us to think of a black hero created by Shakespeare, harking back to the Italian Renaissance for the setting of his play. The study of Othello with the use of CRT (critical race theory) such as Fanon’s historico-racial schema helps us to unpack the discursive production of identity and understand how inscriptions of racial difference are formed and indoctrinated. Desdemona’s character happens to be one of the most virtuous so it is feasible why Othello would want to identify himself with this. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. “One of the ironies of Othello is that the main character is black, but he’s also a general defending Christianity against the Turks.” Although he’s essentially a sympathetic character, said Kitch, Othello’s skin color does become an issue through the machinations of Iago, who is Othello’s ensign but hates his boss for promoting someone else ahead of him. and a “Barbary horse” (1.1.) Even though the play is full of offensive definitions of black Othello, we cannot define it as a racist work since Shakespeare’s black hero is inwardly pure and innocent. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide, This PDF is available to Subscribers Only. iii. Othello is the one who is made up of elements whose nobility suits power while on the other side, there is Iago who seeks power but he is entirely unfit for it. They are included in the third part of Appiah’s definition, that possessors of the racial identity have a shared racial essence that causes them to make similar choices. The answer may seem obvious, but is it? Othello was first printed in quarto form in 1622, and then in the First Folio of 1623; however, there are many variations between the texts of Q1 and F1. Shakespeare’s Othello brings forth questions of race as it contemplates whether Othello’s madness and rage are intrinsic components of his racial identity and therefore a product of his cultural and possibly religious background; both movie adaptations also do an … Iago and Roderigo describe Othello at the start of the play, without even naming him, using his racial difference to identify him, referring to him as “the Moor”, “an old black ram”. JSTOR®, the JSTOR logo, JPASS®, Artstor®, Reveal Digital™ and ITHAKA® are registered trademarks of ITHAKA. Shakespeare’s Othello brings forth questions of race as it contemplates whether Othello’s madness and rage are intrinsic components of his racial identity and therefore a product of his cultural and possibly religious background; both movie adaptations also do an admirable job addressing this problematic issue of race. Highlights of a debate held on Sunday 9 August 2015 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Briefly, this is revealed through Othello and his identification of himself through Desdemona. The majority of the racial prejudices are presented in the first three acts of the play, ... Take the issue of national identity—in 1612, England was under the rule of James I, who was also the King of Scotland. In addition to Othello’s identity, Philip Butcher writes in an article titled: ‘Othello’s Racial Identity’ published in the Folger Shakespeare library that the Moors entered Spain in force from Morocco in 711. The theme of gender, though, is an equally significant factor in the play. or as a soldier? Philip Butcher; Othello’s Racial Identity, Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 3, Issue 3, 1 July 1952, Pages 243–247, https://doi.org/10.2307/2866304 The Moor in his source story (see below) is not given a name. Request Permissions. Philip Butcher, Othello’s Racial Identity, Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 3, Issue 3, Summer 1952, Pages 243–247, https://doi.org/10.2307/2866304, Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. Read your article online and download the PDF from your email or your account. Previously performed last semester, this powerful drama explores the real meaning of racial identity in today’s world—and the lasting consequences of racial hatred. Otello galvanises questions of race and identity because the opera has historically dramatised not Moorishness but whiteness: white artists’ imaginations, designs and strategies for … The answer may seem obvious, but is it? Othello confesses here that he views his own racial identity as undesirable, less than even and it is this lack of assurance in himself that allows for Iago’s persuasion. THE ETHNICITY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S character, Othello is still debated amongst some Shakespeareans. Roderigo, in his deep malice and envy against Othello, calls him as “the thick-lips.”It may refer to Othello’s possibly African feature. He is even referred to as “the thick lips”. Othello’s identity is presented by different factors that balance each other out, with occasions where one dominates the other, causing him to lose sight of his own identity. Our mission, simply put, is to present the best scholarship on Shakespeare from his own period to the present moment. August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer Racial prejudice against the outsiders existed during the Elizabethan Age and Shakespeare attempted to create a parallel world in his tragedy Othello, The Moor of Venice where he captures a wide array of reactions towards a Black Muslim by the white majority Christians in Venice. It is not known why Shakespeare chose to call the central character Othello and he probably made it up. A cursory reading of the first act of Othello would lead the reader to believe that it is an inherently racist text since there is no description of the protagonist given other than his racial difference. -They identify/marginalize him through language “a Barbary horse” “Lascivious Moor” “the thick lips” “black ram” “sooty bosom” Black Othello” “the moor” In a sexual context the epithets are more offensive: 1.1 Ln 122 pg. He rationalizes: Nor from my own weak merits will I draw The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt; For she had eyes, and chose me. The character's origin is traced to the tale "Un Capitano Moro" in Gli Hecatommithi by Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinthio. To Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio Othello’s colour and racial background – particularly in relation to his marrying a white female – are alarming. ©2000-2021 ITHAKA. On the one hand, Othello’s race is not accentuated, and the character is depicted equally to the other characters in the tragedy while being “great of heart” (Shakespeare 5.2.359). Othello identity essay The paper "The Theme of Personal Identity in Othello and King Lear" discusses that various factors contribute to the formation of personal identity. thank you all. The character's origin is traced to the tale "Un Capitano Moro" in Gli Hecatommithi by Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinthio.There, he is simply referred to as the Moor. One last character to which identity is important is Desdemona. Othello was written some time between 1600 and 1605. Othello’s identity is presented by different factors that balance each other out, with occasions where one dominates the other, causing him to lose sight of his own identity. Philip Butcher; Othello’s Racial Identity, Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 3, Issue 3, 1 July 1952, Pages 243–247, https://doi.org/10.2307/2866304 This narration is embodied in the character of Othello and John Othello. In other words, Othellowas written at a time when modern racial ideology and racial prejudice as we know them were coming into being but were not yet fully formed. The Lovers. Desdemona’s character happens to be one of the most virtuous so it is feasible why Othello would want to identify himself with this. (III. OUP is the world's largest university press with the widest global presence. I87-I89) As one of the more revealing quotes about race in Othello by Shakespeare, this is a particularly revealing statement about how race might have been viewed by contemporaries of Shakespeare. This narration is embodied in the character of Othello and John Othello. In the Renaissance age, any classification in a racial sense was very different than that of ours. Their references to a 'sooty bosom' (I.2.70), 'the thicklips' (I.1.65), and 'an old black ram' (I.1.87) who practises witchcraft in order to subdue a terrified maiden construct a negative stereotype of the hero. One last character to which identity is important is Desdemona. This is also relevant because it demonstrates a perceived parallel between black men and animals—that they are not fully human, thus undeserving of the humanizing use of … This item is part of a JSTOR Collection. Shakespeare has showed it in Othello. Even when the play is titled The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, the ethnic origin of the main protagonist remains ambiguous.. In Othello , Shakespeare explores factors that play an important role in the formations of one's identity – race, gender, social status, family relationships, military service, etc. Othello brings the rhetoric of race and the legitimacy of one’s identity to the forefront within this early piece English literature. On the other hand, Othello’s racial identity can be discussed as that force, which makes him act decisively and brutally. William Shakespeare’s Othello, is most notably recognized for the character, Othello. All Rights Reserved. Othello: Race, Place, and Identity. Shakespeare's description of Othello as black cannot be accepted without some examination. In the play Othello is always under attack due to … There, he is simply referred to as the Moor. Othello’s racial identity: Philip butcher Written in 1604- Jacobean period (king james) James was seen as impotent and prevaricating Corrupted appointed his favourite people Critics Machiavelli idea of politics: figure of prince is corrupt (Iago) Context- Race Colonised- mid 16 th century. option. … Shakespeare presents the crisis of identity first by contrasting Othello’s trust of Iago and his His racial identity propels him to believe that he is the lesser man. The differences of opinion centre around exactly what the Bard intended by his use of the term “Moor” in describing his character’s ethnicity and racial identity. 229-233) Othello, too, recognizes that the marriage is unusual. How does it effect how others perceive him? This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Fanon, Identity, Othello, race. It is generally the morally dubious characters who use his race as a … -They identify/marginalize him through language “a Barbary horse” “Lascivious Moor” “the thick lips” “black ram” “sooty bosom” Black Othello” “the moor” In a sexual context the epithets are more offensive: 1.1 Ln 122 pg. The colour of Othello’s skin is obviously a crucial factor in his downfall, because his visibly alien racial identity makes him and his bride far more vulnerable to the machinations of Iago than if he were an equally accomplished and indispensable white man. Othello is also concerned with how an individual's sense of identity (which can break down and be manipulated by others) shapes his or her actions. Because the hero of the play is an outsider, a Moor, we have an idea how blacks were regarded in England, in Elizabethan times. The racial prejudice and abuse towards Othello play a major role in the tragedy of the play. What Does The Name Othello Signify? For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription. 'Othello' may have had a number of associations for the original audience. Search for other works by this author on: Copyright © 2021 Folger Shakespeare Library. Demarcated primarily in Othello’s identity transformation over the course of the play, this Otherness is reinforced through the motifs of Skip to main content Othello is identified in the play’s subtitle as a “Moor”: a term most typically used in this period to signal someone who was either of African descent, Muslim faith, or both. The Spanish applied the term Moor to people of Arabian, Syrian and African descent without regard for … Theme of Racial identity in Othello..?-How much do other characters focus on Othello's race? Black people became prevalent in 1554 Shakespeare’s designation of Othello as a moor is quite ambiguous. Othello can be read as both a representation and an exploration of this shift in ideology. 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