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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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.

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