Essay regarding Shakespeare

Amber Grootenboer


Dr . J. N. van Dijkhuizen

Literature 6B: Shakespeare: A great introductory course

5 August 2011

Exactly how are relations among different cultural groups displayed in The Merchant of Venice and Othello?

At this point in the early twenty-first hundred years we tend to connect racist behaviour as fallacious and inhuman. The Vendor of Venice and Othello can, therefore , present issues to contemporary readers and audiences because, to a certain extent, Shakespeare presents relationships between the several ethnic groups in a unfavorable way: equally plays include characters with racist perceptions which contemporary audiences will likely find offensive and unpleasant. The issue for readers and audiences is usually how far William shakespeare endorses the racist perceptions of the communities he shows. This essay will show that, although both plays contain characters with racist perceptions, the takes on as a whole condemn racism while illogical and inhuman, furthermore Shakespeare's condemnation of racism is a part of a larger critique of Venetian society in both performs. It is hard to find out Elizabethan and Jacobean behaviour to nonwhites like Othello and not Christians like Shylock. Robinson (p. 20–25) summarizes the research that has been taken on to reach the conclusion that sixteenth century Englishmen may have observed themselves because superior to non-Europeans, but there is no evidence that they indulged in bigotry. There was clearly more a sense of curiosity it seems like, than unthinking condemnation.

However, Othello is an unusual Elizabethan play because its leading part is nonwhite, and it can be argued that this in itself is usually proof enough of Shakespeare's desire to present Othello like a man (regardless of race) – al-be-it a man who enjoys superb status due to his armed forces skill proven over decades of service to the Venetian state. Othello is presented as a soldier, brave head and he's an honoured member of the Venetian point out. Venice demands the preventing and armed forces skills of Othello to ward off the Turks who jeopardize to surpass Cyprus, hence there would not seem to be virtually any evidence of institutionalized racism inside the authorities that run Venice. His commission to take control of Cyprus shows the trust and faith your Venice features in his prowess.

Yet, racist perceptions abound within the play but they are largely confined to Iago and Roderigo who also both often refer to the color of Othello's skin and also to other unoriginal features of nonwhites. As early as Take action One, field one, Roderigo refers to him as " thick-lips” (line 66) and shortly after Iago says to Brabantio, " Even now, now, very now, a classic black ram/Is tupping the white ewe. ” (lines 89-90). Nevertheless , this is even more a reflection of Iago's characteristics and there are not any instances through which Shakespeare attests this perspective. In that offer it is not simply the racial slur that lets us know about Iago: to describe the act of affection as " tupping” implies a raw and earthy attitude towards human sexuality. As Robinson (94) describes:

What Iago and Roderigo call up ‘unnatural' and unjust simply reveals, ironically, how humanly unnatural and morally unjust they are. Racism is so reviled by William shakespeare that, in Iago, he presents one of the moist vividly ugly and alarming life-sized portraits of unequivocal hurtful hatred of black people in books.

Another instance of racism is Brabantio's reaction on the thought of Othello marrying his daughter: Iago is smart enough to tap into this primal and illogical anxiety about miscegenation, but Othello's first appearance and the way Shakespeare presents him as a well-spoken, articulate and persuasive man demonstrates that Shakespeare would not maintain any kind of stereotypical perspective of non-white people. In Act One, scene two Shakespeare portrays Othello while calm, assessed and sensitive – barely the " black ram” that Iago has thus crudely known. In fact , Shakespeare's presentation of Othello highlights the sarcastic...

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Kermode, Outspoken. Shakespeare's Language. 2000. London: Penguin. Print.

Long, Jordan. The Not naturally made Scene: a report in Shakespearean Tragedy. 1976. London: Methuen. Print.

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Shakespeare, William. The Service provider of Venice. 2000. Greater london: Methuen. Produce.

Shakespeare, Bill. Othello. 98. London: Penguin Print.