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Discuss the issue of racism is a major theme in the play Othello. 

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ngr4ngr4 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:18 AM via web

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Discuss the issue of racism is a major theme in the play Othello. 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:30 PM (Answer #1)

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Racism appears throughout Othello. Early in the play, Iago attempts to arouse Brabantio's fears about his daughter's elopement with the Moor by associating race with animal sexuality, telling him that "even now...a black ram is tupping your white ewe." Just before, Roderigo has referred disparagingly to Othello as "the thicklips." There are references throughout the play to Othello as a "devil" and a "lascivious Moor." But the issue of race may also be at play on a deeper level. Othello begins as an upright, heroic, strong figure, but by the end of the play he is, because of Iago's scheming, reduced to being little more than a murderous, vicious animal, consumed by passion and grief. Othello's blackness in skin and temper is juxtaposed with Desdemona's whiteness at the end of the play, most explicitly by Emilia, who responds to Othello's admission that he murdered Desdemona by saying, "O, the more angel she/And you the blacker devil!" Othello thus degenerates into at least some of the stereotypes many Elizabethan audiences may have held of black men. Race is not the central theme of Othello, but it is always present as an issue.

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