For the Elizabethan audience their understanding of the moor was equivalent to African and to them they were not considered as equals, Shakespeare’s perception of Othello as a character in his play depicted as a black moor. Othello incorporates social issues including racism, this is referred to the significant characters within Othello that judges people based on race. This includes racism within a relationship, internal conflict and the stereotypes that endorses racism in the play and was seen in the early 15th century that is mirrored into today’s time frame.Racism within a relationship played a huge factor with Othello as significant characters judged Othello based on his race and because he was with Desdemona a beautiful white European girl. Iago had always hated Othello because of his high rank and did not give Iago the promotion (IAGO) “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise! Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say!” (1.1.88-92) Iago uses racial term when he was informing Brabantio the news that his daughter, Desdemona has been secretly married to Othello. When Iago says an “old black ram” which refers to Othello, “tupping” as in sleeping with Brabantio’s “white ewe” indicating that it is with Desdemona.
Based on Elizabethan notions Iago is playing, black men to have an animal type of behaviour, hyper-sexuality, this is all part of the plan of manipulating Brabantio so conflict would be created. Many people in the story had been against Othello because of his color as they believe he used “magic” on Desdemona, but Othello had the Duke of Venice in his favor as he was admired and proved him in the rule but was being objectified by Brabantio. “And, noble signior, If virtue no delighted beauty lack, Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.” (1.3.288-290) This signifies that not everyone in Venice shares Brabantio’s views of Othello. Othello is a disciplined and honorable military leader and for those aspects have been admired by the Senator and Duke. Since Othello was admired by the Senator and the Duke, they falsified the accusation brought against Othello of using “magic” on Desdemona.
The Duke compliments Othello of being virtuous and even “fair” however, the Duke’s words can also show that blackness has negative effects. Othello being called “fair” and his race also being black, it suggests that Othello is the only type of exception to be ruled from these accusations. Othello always speaks of demeaning terms against himself based on race which shows signs of racism throughout the play, he blames his color as the reason for the all of this negativity to occur. An important scene when Othello suspects Desdemona of cheating, he thinks that his racial identity is to be blamed as he says “Her name, that was as fresh As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black As mine own face.” (3.3.386-388) In this scene, Othello suspects that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio as a result of his reputation being disrespected and has been played with because of his wife being unfaithful to her. Othello now thinks that this is being done to him because of his racial identity.
Othello even considers his blackness to seem as a scar that ruins everything and it shows that he even judges himself because of how black people were portrayed back then and even now. Evidence of internal conflict is shown when “All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven. ‘Tis is gone. Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow cell!” (3.3.445-447) Othello has associated the colour of his skin for the reason behind all of this negative activity happening. This shows us that Othello blames his racial identity for the reason why all of this is happening to him and is portraying his internal conflict in a form of racial identity.
There are a lot of stereotypes against black people for the way they’d act and would assume their actions because of his or her skin color which comes to show how stereotypes involving racism play a important part within the play Othello. When the climax of the story reaches Othello mentions that “She’s like a liar gone to burning hell! ‘Twas I that killed her. O, the more angel she, and you the blacker devil!” (5.2.128-131) When Othello kills Desdemona, Emilia assumes a racist stereotype – that black man are violent, savage, and to be feared, which shows how racist to people like Emilia can be because she usually never goes against Othello and since this stereotype was set and was so common even characters like Emilia use it. Another stereotype which sparks racism was when Roderigo said: “What a full fortune does the Thick-lips owe If he can carry’t thus!” (1.1.66-67) this shows that Othello was stereotyped and over exaggerated of his features differentiating his race showing that racism is commentated in the story Othello and is also incorporated within today’s society.
To conclude, Racism is a social issue which was heavily commentated throughout the whole play of Othello, it portrays the racism within a relationship, internal conflict and stereotypes that brings out racism which were all highlighted and shown within the play. Othello was being judged based on his race because he was with a beautiful white European girl which was very uncommon back then, this further lead Othello to believe all the negative activity was caused because his race based on all the stereotypes induced with racism. This shows that back in the 15th century the Elizabethan audience always felt more superior compared to everyone else who was not white, which is Shakespeare’s perception of Othello.