In Shakespeare's play Othello, is the villian Iago a racist? Is there anything to suggest that Iago's behaviour towards Othello is racially or religiously motivated?

Expert Answers
parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, yes! Iago refers to Othello (behind his back) as "thick lips" and warns Barbantio in regard to Othello's attraction to his daughter Desdemona:
"Even now, now, very now an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe..."

Iago is jealous of others' success and well-being, but a big dose of prejudice "enhances" his naturally vile character. He often refers to Othello not by name but as "the moor" and is even suspicious that he has seduced his own wife Emilia.


yoseffrankenstein | Student

no. roderigo calls othello thicklips, not iago. roderigo is an idiot and a sucker. it makes sense for him to say stupid stuff like that because he is the clown of the play. iago refers to othello as a black ram in order to upset the senator. he uses othellos different color as a tool to incite other peoples emotions. he has been othellos friend for 15 years, why would he suddenly harbor racist feelings? moor is not a racial slur, its like calling someone an italian. finally, othello at the time of this play is one of the most respected men in the country. would they entrust a moor with the safety of their country and people if they were racist?