"Othello" is a play written by a writer called William Shakespeare. Throughout the play, Shakespeare depicts the outsider status using the protagonist, Othello who is a black army general. Shakespeare uses various approaches to show the relationship of an outsider in high Venetian society. He is referred with demeaning terms by other characters in the play because they feel that he is scarcely human because he is black (Godinez 44). The protagonist also brings out the idea of an outsider when he states major differences that separate him from the community and eventually causing his downfall. The play is about a man by the name Othello who is seen as a hero or the protagonist in this play, whereby activities in this story revolves around. Othello begins as a nobleman who is celebrated and a respected war hero. He is also a loving him husband, and an eloquent storyteller, but at the end of the play he becomes an irrational, violent and insanely jealous husband who murders his own wife. Othello outsider's status is demonstrated by the fact he is a black man in a white society is a major factor that causes his downfall.
Othello is a black man from North Africa who has traveled the world and was sold into slavery, escaped and become the military commander of Venetian military guard to powerful Italian City-state (Rose, 24). Othello's status in Venice is both pretty complicated, as he is seen as both an insider and an outsider. He is also seen as a Christian and a military leader. He demands respect and admiration from the duke, Senate and many citizens of Venice (Smith, 45). Racism is another factor that is portrayed in the play where Desdemona's father who believes that the interracial marriage between Othello and Desdemona can only result to trickery. Although he is not the tricky character here he is a victim of trickery, where he is tricked by Lago. In act 1 of the play, the theme of an outsider is seen where Shakespeare put a twist on this play, as there is a battle between good and evil. Being good is represented by a black man and being evil is represented by the white (Rose, 25).
Othello gets tricked by Lago a character who is seen as the villain in the story and he is convinced that his wife has been unfaithful to him which was not true. Othello makes Michael Cassion a Lieutenant, an action that did not please Lago. Lago plans revenge over Othello which at the end he succeeds. He sets a trap over Michael Cession where he tells him that he should approach Othello's wife Desdemona so he can negotiate with her husband upon Cassion retaining his position in the army.
Othello's Tragic Downfall: Jealousy, Gullibility, and Insecurity
Othello is an unusual man in Venice land because he is a foreigner and a Moor, a black man from North Africa. Being an outsider makes him to be referred in demeaning words of all manners, for example Emilia refers to him as the "The black devil" and Lago as "The old black ram" the devil and the Barbary horse (Smith, 54). This reminds Othello of his inferiority due to his blackness. This negative comment makes logos to think that Lagos is only a piece of equipment to be toyed with. He thinks that he can tame Othello to his advantage if can behave courteously towards him. The animal imagery implies that Othello is only interested with sexual relationship between him and Desdemona and hence implies that Othello is only exploiting her. The aspect of outsider is portrayed where Roderigo refers Othello as a Moor because they thinks that he is not worthy of a Christian name. The word Moor is a racist term that Roderigo and Lago use Othello behind his back. The fact that Lago and Roderigo term Othello as Moor behind his back symbolizes that they are afraid of Othello as he is the General and could strip them of from their employment as he has more power than them .Othello is also Seen as a tragic hero in the play. This implies that he is of nobble status and greatness. Othello is nobble and a quite capable leader, however he has a tragic flaw which contributes to his downfall in the play. His leadership skills are vivid as he is the leader of the military against the Turkish Invasion against Cyprus. Although he is of high stature of greatness he has poor judgment flaw.
He makes an error of judgment towards his wife Desdemona. This is seen in the play where Othello allowed his jealousy to take the better of him which made him murder his wife without any profound piece of evidence. It is one thing to be jealous, but it is clear that Othello acted tragically. Othello's action was influenced mostly by a character like Lago who acted as a mechanism that transformed Othello's values of justice and honor into vengefulness and rather obsessive hunger of molarity in his world (Smith, 33). Lago planted a seed of jealousy in Othello that made him lose self-control and blinded him to see the logic in his judgment towards his wife accusations of unfaithfulness, this was a tragic flaw. In the play, we can see that Othello was not only jealous but also gullible. His Gullibility comes is clear in the play where Othello allows himself to fall into Lago's trickery which led to his down fall (Godinez 45). Gullibility and jealousy are the main reasons of Othello's downfall. In the play, we can see that Othello whose gifts far outnumbered his weaknesses. In the battlefield he was accomplished, in his profession, he was highly ranked and in his marriage he was happy. Despite his great achievements, Othello's destiny is ruined. Everything that Othello has for himself is destroyed by one flaw which is the fear of remaining an outsider. He feared his fate and yet harped it continuously. Othello is torn between his identity as a foreigner and his desire to live like a normal citizen. Fears of interracial marriages also brought along Othello's downfall. According to Brabantio Othello must have bewitched Desdemona to fall in love with him, he says that Other must have used magic spell or charms otherwise Desdemona would not have run into his sooty bosoms for anything.
Othello's suspicion that his wife might be cheating on him with Michael Cassion also drove him nut despite the interracial marriage working out so well. In the beginning, we see Othello as a happily married man and yes he has been until Lago a character who pretends to be Othello's but he is an an enemy in disguise whose aim is to destroy Othello's reputation (Marcus, 130). Lago came up with a plan to trick Othello through a character called Micheal Cassion, who was promoted to a lieutenant position in the army by Othello. Lago was as angry at Othello as he wanted to be prompted instead of Casson.As a result of this, Lago plans for revenge against Othello. The plot on how to destroy Othello, he sends Desdemona to his husband Othello to talk on behalf of Michael Cassion (Godinez, 178).Lagos came to Othello and applied his villain character to poison Othello's mind that his wife has been unfaithful to him with Michael Cassion, that made him so angry which led him to smother his own wife Desdemona even without any evidence except a handkerchief that was found in Cassion's house. This portrayed jealousy of the highest order. Othello being not trustworthy to his wife lead to him smothering his wife because of jealousy which finally haunted him until he became so hopeless with life, as he realized that he had loosed his own love through Jealousy, gullibility, insecurity and poor judgment. Othello later took his life own life because he could not take the guilt anymore. That was Othello's great downfall.
In conclusion racism in any society can result to things like inferiority among people and can also lead to the poor judgment which may even lead to unnecessary predicaments like death, low self-esteem, and insecurities which may lead to the suffering of victims. We should also distinguish whom to trust and who not trust.
Godinez, Henry Dominic. "Othello, Shakespeare." Othello, Shakespeare. 2005: 24-460
Rose, Marjorie St. "Race and Patriarchy in Othello." International Journal of Bahamian Studies 11 (2008): 25-33.
Smith, Emma. William Shakespeare, Othello. Northcote House Pub Limited, 2005.
Marcus, Leah S. "Constructions of Race and Gender in the Two Texts of Othello." Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies. Routledge, 2016. 129-148.
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