Use direct quotes from Othello to discuss Othello's positive depiction and society's split opinions of the Other (Brabantio's acceptance versus Iago'd racism).

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way in which the otherness of Othello is brought under fire is through the deliberate presentation of Othello as being dangerous and a force for evil because of his otherness. This of course presents Othello as a man facing significant conflict, because for all of his attempts to fit in to society around him and to "act white," characters such as Iago and Brabantio refer directly to his black skin as a symbol of how dangerous and violent he can be. Note, for example, how Iago deliberately plays on such stereotypes, exploiting them for his own purposes, in the following quote:

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise;
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise I say!

The rather provocative and disgusting sexual imagery plays on cultural stereotypes of black men being predatory sexual males who take and rape white women. Note how Iago describes Othello as "the devil," and stokes fears within Brabantio that he will pollute his descendants through his black skin. Such quotes reflect the narrow-minded prejudices of characters such as Iago and Brabantio, and also society in general, through the exploitation of cultural stereotypes that are already present. Such voices reflect the perspective of racist individuals who are unwillingness to accept Othello because of his otherness.

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