Please discuss; Difference or otherness can be seen as a powerful fource in Othello. Discuss the function and significance of this motif in the plays.In Othello, violate the so-called "unity of...

Please discuss;

Difference or otherness can be seen as a powerful fource in Othello. Discuss the function and significance of this motif in the plays.

In Othello, violate the so-called "unity of place" requirement that the action can be confined to one location

Please discuss the symbolic and thematic implication of the movement from one geographical location to another.

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mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Othello, the two great fears in the white European 17th world were fear of the spread of Islam and fear of men of color seducing their white women:

Race: Othello is "other," alienated by race, age, religion, language

  • He is a black man in a white, European world of Venice (Act I)
  • He is a former slave, a former Muslim is a white, Christian world.
  • The Turk never appears but are feared throughout the play.  Does Othello become the Turk?
  • Othello loses his power of language once on Cyprus

Gender: women are "other," outsiders

  • Women were seen as either virgins and quiet maids or talkative seductresses.
  • Desdemona is outspoken in Venice (Act I) but then becomes totally submissive in Cyprus.
  • Emilia is killed when she speaks out against her husband.
  • Biancha is the lowest in terms of social status

Geography as other:

  • Venice is white, civilized, a place of the court, a place of reason; Othello wins his day in court here
  • Cyprus is closer to the Muslim, uncivilized world; an island; wild; Desdemona is represented by Cyprus: Iago (Venice) and Othello (Turk) compete, wage war over her
  • The unity of place is lost between Acts I and II: Othello moves from a position of status to a position of weakness once on the island; Iago maneuvers better away from the court, Senate, Duke.

Even though this unity is lost, Othello is Shakespeare's most Aristotelian play as it has the smallest cast, no subplot, and no supernatural interference.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I am a little confused by some of this question.  I will address difference in terms of race.  Othello is a Moor which makes him different from the other characters.  Because he is different there is a level of jealously associated with his skin color and his rise to greater power and responsibility than the others.

Desdemona loves him and wants him.  She is beautiful and strong willed but pure and innocent in many ways.  She is willing to step out of her comfort zone to court and marry Othello.

Perception of differences is also relative when one looks at the way Othello perceives Christian values.  He expects that people are honest with him.  This makes him an easy target when the lies and manipulations begin.

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