Othello

A Postcolonial Reading of Othello 12th Grade

Reading practices can be adopted when reading literature to view a text through a certain perspective and extract a distinct meaning from the text. By adopting a post-colonial reading practice, Shakespeare’s arguably contentious and highly charged Jacobean play, Othello, a black general, can be considered to perpetuate the racist attitudes prevalent in 16th century Europe. For modern day readers, it is impossible to ignore the stark contrast between the racial ideals Shakespeare naturalises and the egalitarian intentions of today’s society. The play’s setting, colonial Venice, functions to allow the racism directed towards the protagonist, Othello or the ‘Moor of Venice’, to occur, while the unfounded perceptions other characters have regarding Othello are obvious examples of racial stereotyping. Furthermore, Shakespeare’s conscious decision to have Othello fulfil racial stereotypes can be criticised through a postcolonial reading.

16th century Venice is the setting for Othello. It was a period of rapid colonisation by military powers such as Spain, Britain and Portugal. Venice was a merchant capital, where colonisers would meet to trade their goods and stories. This setting operates in Othello to allow the existence of...

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