Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Can Othello be seen as the product of the ambivalent attitude towards Moors and Moorish culture in Shakespeare's England?

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes, but not primarily.

By that I mean, there is definitely ambivalence towards the Moors/Moorish culture in the play. Brabantio assumes Othello used magic on Desdemona, which assumes both morally suspect inclinations and, well, magical powers. Othello is definitely treated as other, and exotic, by a range of people: the Duke, Desdemona (in her response to his stories), and, as mentioned, Brabantio. At the same time, his prowess was respected, and his opinion. The Venetians can see him as a great warrior, and hire him as such.
However, that's mostly in the set-up. Much of the later play, and especially the plot/theme interaction, proceed independent of this. Othello's background isolates him, but it is his trust of Iago that destroys him, and Iago's schemes, and those could be turned on anyone.

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