As a character, Othello is so compelling because he demonstrates the fundamental pain of being an outsider. It is evident that Othello has overcome the barriers preclude him from being one with power. He has been "taken in" the ranks of Venice's elite. He has the love of the beautiful...
As a character, Othello is so compelling because he demonstrates the fundamental pain of being an outsider. It is evident that Othello has overcome the barriers preclude him from being one with power. He has been "taken in" the ranks of Venice's elite. He has the love of the beautiful Desdemona, reflecting a condition of immersion into the echelon of those with power. For all practical purposes, Othello has transcended the condition that would keep him on the outside looking in.
Yet, as seen in the drama, looks can be deceiving. There is a small part of Othello's consciousness imprinted with the experience of being the outsider. A fractional portion of his being in the world is set with the condition of representing what it means to be separate, on the margins, as opposed to being in the center. This "dual consciousness" is something that nags at Othello. It is for this reason that he cannot really overcome the small doubt that someone like Desdemona would be with someone like him. It is also the portion of him that fails to truly validate that he has earned that which has been given to him. This aspect of what it means to be an outsider has been imprinted on his consciousness. His surrender to jealousy can be rooted as a plea from the depths of insecurity and doubt. From all external appearances, one cannot see it. Yet, Iago does. Iago understands that Othello's weaknesses of being an outsider reside in him being a man of color, a soldier, and one whose narrative is fundamentally different than those who are of established ranks of power. Iago understands this and manipulates it perfectly.
Shakespeare develops a rather intense portrait of what it means to be the outsider. For individuals who are on the outside looking in, there is a part of that experience which remains embedded in their minds and soul. Shakespeare creates Othello as one who never fully rids himself of the condition of marginalization. Through this depiction, Shakespeare's statement is that those who are on the outside must go through some level of personal reflection and self- analysis in order to better understand the psychological effects of marginalization. In this regard, Othello, as a character, speaks to the millions of people who have struggled for acceptance and wrestling with the implications of the experience of having voice silenced. While this experience might be overcome, there is some residual effect that lingers. Being able to understand this condition is part of what it means to live in the modern condition. Othello's struggle in understanding this aspect of himself as one who "loved too well" is critical in his condition and our own.