Othello the Outsider
Shakespeare portrays Venice as incredibly advanced for its time. This is seen especially though its democratic justice system, as we are shown that in Act One everyone has a voice regardless of their colour or sex. The truth that Othello has actually acquired the high position of “basic” within the army recommends that his possibilities have by no means been limited by the colour of his skin. Likewise the reality that he is treated with the utmost respect from the Duke, the highest authority in Venice, reveals that the colour of ones skin is not viewed as a downside in Venetian society.
We know its track record as an extremely sexual city through the flourishing sex trade and it is viewed as a really cosmopolitan city due to its value as a trading port. The white Venetians in “Othello” provide for the most part exemplify the good qualities of their city and culture, which oozes civility and elegance. This can be seen through the Duke’s language: “Valiant Othello, we need to straight utilize you versus the basic opponent ottoman. (To Brabantio) I did not see you: welcome, gentle signor”. Nevertheless in Act One, Shakespeare uses the words of three Venetians to emphasise distinctions in Othello’s character from other Venetians.
Shakespeare chooses these characters to highlight Othello’s differences, as they are infested with anger, jealousy and bitterness, for that reason their descriptions of Othello are deceiving. The playwright uses these characters to paint an image of Othello as the embodiment of the black stereotype held by people at this time, labelling him as “various” to everybody else. The use of animal imagery is used to help communicate Othello as a beast and the options of animals shows the underlying racism: “Old Black ram” and “Barbary horse”.
The recommendations to witchcraft and the devil also help to stress Othello’s differences: “The devil will make a grandsire of you”, “the beast with 2 backs”. As we do not see Othello until near the end of Act One, we base our viewpoint on these remarks from Brabantio, Iago and Roderigo and therefore we are established to think that Othello’s character is extremely various to that of a normal Venetian. These characters all speak about him with contempt and without regard, weakening Othello’s senior position as General.
Not just do 2 noblemen of Venice; Roderigo and Brabantio disrespect him; but Iago, one of his senior officers, does also. Therefore we assume that Othello is not appreciated by anybody in Venice because he is a monster and for that reason “various” to everyone else. They extinguish any possibilities of pure love between Desdemona and Othello through recommending that he fooled her into marital relationship by use of witchcraft: “if she in chains of magic were not bound …” and the extreme use of sexual imagery exposes Othello as very sexual, rampant and violent: “an old black ram is tupping at your white ewe”.
However when we are lastly introduced to Othello we see that these differences are entirely unfounded as he is cultured, exceptionally articulate, powerful, calm and respected. When challenged by Brabantio’s anger Othello stays calm and dignified: “hold your hands”. Othello also exposes in among his speeches that he has actually had very little experience with women as all he has ever understood is battling and war, which reveals that Iago’s description of Othello as a rampant monster is completely incorrect: “For since these arms of mine had 7 years pith till now some nine moons lost, they have used their dearest action in the tented field”.
He also radiates modesty: “Rude am I in my speech” and addresses Brabantio and the Duke with the utmost regard: “My extremely honorable and approved great masters”. The only distinction, which we can validate is his skin colour but in every other element he is the complete gentleman who radiates normal Venetian qualities like the Duke.
Shakespeare used the remarks of Iago, Brabantio and Roderigo at the beginning of Act One, so that we had preconceived ideas of Othello and were prepared to observe him as “different”, nevertheless as we learn about his true character we feel dreadful about forming such discriminative opinions and for that reason we put Othello high up on a pedestal. This is Shakespeare’s intent for his Catastrophe, as this supplies the central character, Othello, with a further range to fall, including significance to his disintegration later on in the play.
We learn that the Duke, the greatest authority in Venice, holds the utmost regard for Othello showing that the words of Iago, Brabantio and Roderigo do not reflect the opinion of all Venetians: “Valiant Othello”. We now start to unwind that these specific characters are all prejudiced versus Othello, due to personal issues. Brabantio’s discovery of Othello’s marital relationship to his daughter sparks a hatred within him and his recommendations to piracy and witchcraft exposes a racist aspect in his character: “O thou nasty thief!
Where hast thou stowed my child? Damned as thou art, thou hast captivated her”. Although he was happy for Othello to dine at his house with his child often times before, the intimacy of marital relationship shows a step too far for Brabantio and aided by Iago’s manipulation, he turns against Othello, regardless of the reality that he is a really effective and highly regarded general. This demonstrates how strong emotions such as jealousy, bitterness and anger have the power to make people prejudiced in order to give them ammunition for their attacks.
As a modern reader I can relate to this because although Venetian society in general is not a racist society it does not indicate that racist or any type of discriminative thoughts do not pass between the minds of people. This is the very same in our society as individuals form their own bias in personal although they would not make a phenomenon of it as many individuals may find their views offensive. Our first insight into Act One is through a personal discussion in between Roderigo and Iago, which occurs at “night” in secret.
Therefore when Othello arrives we see that in public and in front of the Duke, Othello is a highly regarded person where the colour of his skin is of little significance. The Duke has little persistence for Brabantio’s remarks about Othello and alters the subject of discussion along with entering into prose, showing that the matter of war is far more important: “The Turk with a most magnificent preparation makes for Cyprus”, showing that he does not see anything incorrect with a reputable black man participating in marriage with white lady.
He is far more interested in the security of Venice. Desdemona’s real love for Othello also shows his innocence. He is a far cry from the rampant beast, who fooled Desdemona into marital relationship through using witchcraft: “I saw Othello’s visage in his mind”. Their love can be viewed as lovely and pure through how she exclaims that she was drawn in to Othello’s personality, which she places above everything else.
There is no impression that she was tricked or forced: “Let me opt for him”, undoubtedly her words are commanding, monosyllabic and forceful demonstrating how desperately she wishes to be with him. Othello’s language towards Desdemona is similarly pure. “Let her have her voice”, first of all he shows his regard for her and then: “vouch with me, heaven, I therefore plead it not to please the taste buds of my cravings nor to adhere to the heat– the young impacts in me– defunct– and correct satisfaction; however to be free and bounteous to her ind”, reveals that their relationship is not merely about sex but he likewise that he is also attracted to her mind which reveals pureness in their love. As a contemporary reader I am shocked to discover Desdemona so outspoken for her time as ladies during this period were typically subservient to guys and had to ask approval prior to asserting her opinion. She is really strong and ambitious in the business of guys and the reality that nobody silences her demonstrate how Venetians appreciated the views of all people no matter their sex, showing a democratic system comparable to our own.
However Desdemona is still referred to as a possession which shows how although complimentary to express her view, she is still a prisoner in her daddies home, which is evident in her father Brabantio’s speech: “How she got out?” As a modern day reader I discover this kind of mindset towards women offending as women in this modern age have so much more liberty and are treated with respect as we are considered equal to men. Shakespeare utilizes prejudiced remarks from Iago and Brabantio to emphasise Othello’s differences from other Venetians.
He uses their descriptions of Othello as a widespread, violent beast to form our opinions, as we do not see Othello till near completion of Act One and therefore these comments form our preliminary impression of Othello’s character. However when we discover Othello’s real character we change our viewpoints and place him high up giving him a more far-off to fall. We find that in real reality, despite the colour of his skin, Othello is no various to the Venetians in Act One at all. He is a polite, well-mannered and advanced guy who has actually been successful in his profession and is appreciated by Venetians