Racism in William Shakespeare’s Othello is crucial in establishing the play’s plot and the characters’ behavior. Even though racism is not Othello’s core theme, it practically impacts everything in it. Iago exploits Othello because of his skin color, and he is also seen as inferior (Shakespeare 65). Othello’s dark skin renders Iago’s purpose simpler to execute, as separating Desdemona and Othello could certainly be a tough feat without Othello’s complexion (Shakespeare 12). Iago has a great dislike for Othello since he has dark skin.
Additionally, in this play, it is evident that Desdemona’s father is a racist since he does not want Desdemona to marry a man of African descent but rather a man of royal background and light complexion (Shakespeare 13). Besides, Iago compares Othello to a black ram, although Cassio and Desdemona do not appear to be prejudiced against Othello because of his dark skin. Iago continues to torment Othello or make him feel lesser in the presence of Cassio and Desdemona in order to fulfill his objective of dividing them (Shakespeare 91). This irritates Othello even further, plus the reality that he is black renders him to be contemplated as an alien. Because of Othello’s skin color, Iago is certain that Desdemona does not love Othello.
Iago uses Othello’s color to determine his character in this play even though Othello is aggressive, savage, courageous on the battlefield. Iago, in his capacity, wants to prove that Othello’s inferiority complex is related to his skin tone; for instance, Iago uses deteriorating terms, for example, “moor,” to describe Othello (Shakespeare 12). In summary, Shakespeare highlights racism in a concealed manner, and he attempts to demonstrate the venom contained in racism. This is evident when Iago successfully breaks the relationship between Desdemona and Othello (Shakespeare 94-95). Generally, William Shakespeare’s Othello is a racist play, even though these instances of racism are uniquely blended to shape the play’s plot.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. De Gruyter, 1871.