What is the meaning of this quotation from William Shakespeare's Othello?
I am myself descended from royalty and merits may speak for me- I say this in all due modesty. I am descended from just as impressive a rank as that which I have now achieved.
The important point in this quotation from William Shakespeare's Othello is the question of Othello's being a Moor, a dark-skinned Arab. There was a certain degree of prejudice against the Moors among Europeans of this period, as can been seen when Iago, speaking to Desdemona's father in Act 1 Scene 1 emphasizes racial difference:
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe.
Othello, however, points out that he is not a "new man", born of humble parents and risen to prominence, but rather emphasizes that he is more than Desdemona's equal because he himself is descended from royalty; what should matter in consideration of hierarchal position is not Moor vs. Venetian but noble vs. peasant.