Siobhan Keenan Abstract This extended piece will examine the treatment of race by Shakespeare through analysis of three different characters. Much like Othello and Aaron, Shylock conforms to Jewish stereotypes, including his seemingly overwhelming desire for riches and wealth regardless of the moral cost. However, he does much to challenge such expectations. The rationale for his actions promotes sympathy for the character, and highlights the double standards present in the Elizabethan period.
The quasi-scientific suggestion that blackness was nature's defense against intense tropical sun was quickly but not universally discredited when black men and women in northern climes produced equally black children.
The second explanation relied on scriptural tradition and myth. Since George Best provides the most detailed account and the one most frequently cited by modern commentatorsI quote his Discourse from Hakluyt's Voyages at some length: It manifestly and plainely appeareth by holy Scripture, that after the generali inundation and overflowing of the earth, there remained no moe men alive but Noe and his three sonnes, Sem, Cham, and Japhet, who onely were left to possesse and inhabite the whole face Challenges and prejudices faced by othello shaped his character the earth … When Noe at the commandement of God had made the Arke and entred therein, and the floud-gates of heaven were opened, so that the whole face of the earth, every tree and mountaine was covered with abundance of water, hee straitely commaunded his sonnes and their wives, that they should with reverence and feare beholde the justice and mighty power of God, and that during the time of the floud while they remained in the Arke, they should use continencie, and abstaine from carnali copulation with their wives; and many other precepts hee gave unto them, and admonitions touching the justice of God, in revenging sinne, and his mercie in delivering them, who nothing deserved it.
Which good instructions and exhortations notwithstanding his wicked sonne Cham disobeyed, and being perswaded that the first childe borne after the flood by right and Lawe of nature should inherite and possesse all the dominions of the earth, hee contrary to his fathers commandement while they were yet in the Arke, used company with his wife, and craftily went about thereby to dis-inherite the off-spring of his other two brethren: And of this blacke and cursed Chus came all these blacke Moores which are in Africa.
Blackness signifies their unbridled lust and their inner spiritual state a "naturall infection of the blood. Noah was found drunken one night, vncouered in ye middes of his tent.
And when Ham the father of Canaan sawe the nakedness of his father, he tolde his two brethren without. Then toke Shem and Japheth a garme[n]t, and put it vpon bothe their shulders and we[n]t backward, and couered the nakednes of their father with their faces backwarde; so thei sawe not their fathers nakednes.
Then Noah awoke from his wine, and knewe what his yonger sonne had done vnto him. And said, Cursed be Canaan: In the Geneva version of Ham's fall, looking itself is perceived as voyeuristic and obscene.
Like the sight of Othello's and Desdemona's bodies, it "poisons sight. And in either account, the original cause of the African's differentness was a sexual fall from grace. Blackness became a visual signifier of eternal sin.
You could never, as the proverb reminds us, wash the Ethiopian white. Thus blackness and forbidden sex, blackness and heathenism, blackness and slavery—all were linked in the English mind from the earliest descriptions of African people. Stereotypes about blackness were reified in voyagers' accounts of what they saw in Africa.
The explorers who watched the natives watching nakedness apparently did not recognize their own prurient interests. Ethnocentric travel accounts frequently stressed the bestiality and brutishness of African customs, especially in light of what they assumed was the "civilitie" of their own European customs.
An English translation of Philippo Pigafetta's description of the Congo notes cannibalism among the Anzichi: For their enemies whom they take in the warres, they eate, and also their slaues, if they can haue a good market for them, they sell: Thus, Pigafetta reports, in the kingdom of Angola "euery man taketh as many wiues as hee listeth, and so they multiply infinitely: But they doe not vse to do in the kingdome of Congo which liueth after the manner of the Christians.
Pigafetta, for example, scorned the face markings common among the Agagi nation: They doo vse to marke themselues aboue the lippe vpon their cheekes with certain lines which they make with Iron instruments and with fire … [T]hose marks in their faces, it is a strange thing to behold them.
They are of bodie great, but deformed and liue like beastes in the fielde, and feede vpon mans flesh. Within his Geographical Historie of Africa, translated into English by John Pory and published in Londonare accounts of treacherous tawny peoples and virtuous blacks.
Leo's comparatively enlightened viewpoint reflects his own origins as an African Moor, albeit one converted to Christianity and living in Italy.
His travels and adventures, including temporary slavery, have struck some modern commentators as similar to Othello's. Some struck him as civilized, some as savage.
Still, Leo accepted and purveyed the biblical explanation of blackness, claiming that "For all the Negros or blacke Moores take their descent from Chus, the sonne of Cham, who was the sonne of Noe.
Thus, even in Leo's accounts of African people, signals were contradictory. The texts described above were in print at the turn of the seventeenth century, available for the curious who could read. It is difficult to assess the attitudes of those who could not read, but we can examine the visual impressions that informed English Renaissance culture in general.
There were blacks in England in the late sixteenth century. Their numbers were sufficiently substantial by for Elizabeth to license sea captain Caspar van Senden to transport all Negroes and blackamoors out of England.
The royal proclamation seems to have followed up the Privy Council's attempt four years earlier to transport "such slaves" back to Spain and Portugal. Who were these blackmoors and why did Elizabeth seek to oust them from England? Her proclamation declares that they had been carried into England since the late troubles with Spain—presumably as part of the booty brought home from Spanish ships by Drake, Essex, and other privateers.
These Africans were almost certainly slaves, perhaps en route to Portuguese and Spanish colonies in the New World before they were seized by the British. In England they probably continued as slaves or very long-term servants. In either case, they took employment away from needy English subjects.
In Elizabeth's words, they "are fostered and powered here, to the great annoyance of her own liege people that which co[vet?LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Othello, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The most prominent form of prejudice on display in Othello is racial prejudice. Othello Essay Examples. Challenges and Prejudices Faced by Othello Shaped His Character. words. 1 page. An Overview of the Concept of Black and White in Othello, a Play by William Shakespeare.
An Analysis of the Character of Othello in Othello by . A character paper on Othello, by Shakespeare It seems fascinating that an interesting and clever character in a story, would be the villain, such is the case in Othello, by Shakespeare.
As a moor, Othello has faced many challenges and prejudices throughout hi. Mar 29, · Race and Discrimination in 'Othello' by William Shakespeare. However, Iago succeeds in bringing about the ruin of Othello and his wife Desdemona by revealing to Othello the existence of racist ideas and convincing him that he must act out against the individuals supposedly harboring racist-fueled resentment.
those who had previously Reviews: History Snack: It's also important to note that, although Othello is probably a Christian, Iago calls him "the devil," playing on a sixteenth century idea that black men were evil and that the devil often took the shape and form of a black man.
Referring to journal articles, we will explore and evaluate how Othello's identity is shaped by the gaze of the white self. The mentioned characters position Othello's character and his identity to that of an "object" with this 'animal- like' description within the play.
Both Iago and Roderigo shape and name Othello's racialized identity.