It's important first to state that we don't know why Shakespeare made Othello a Moor. While we have much documentary evidence that Shakespeare was indeed Shakespeare, this is primarily in the form of legal and business documents. He didn't leave a journal or any explanation of his thought processes when it came to writing his plays. Therefore, we have to look at the text of the play for an answer and then make informed speculations.
We know that Shakespeare had to make it plausible that a strong, respected leader like Othello would be insecure enough to believe Iago's lies and manipulations about Desdemona. Shakespeare does that in part by making Othello older than Desdemona. However, marriages between older men and younger women were common in that era. It is likely that Shakespeare wanted to give Othello an additional flaw, particularly a cosmetic or outer one, that would make it easy for him to doubt that Desdemona could really love him.
Making him a dark-skinned Moor would make him an...
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