Aaron and Othello: Shakespeare's Moorish Characters College

While certain of William Shakespeare’s plays have so ingrained themselves into popular culture as to be ubiquitous, others are rarely performed or read and are, in fact, largely ignored. Shakespeare’s Othello, one of the former, and Titus Andronicus, one of the latter, are vastly different plays in setting and style, but their subject matter is much more similar than it first appears. Othello’s titular character is famously a Moor and generally depicted as black, despite debate over what exactly Shakespeare meant by “Moor.” Titus Andronicus also features a Moorish character, Aaron, but his characterization brings to mind more of Iago’s villainy than any traits of Othello’s. The ten-year separation between the writing of the two plays seems to have brought about an abrupt shift in Shakespeare’s characterization of the Moor, but the impact that this shift has on the differing notions of race and otherness within both works is immensely complex. The characterization of Aaron in Titus Andronicus and Othello differ with regards to notions of masculinity, inherent barbarity, and animalism, but both plays highlight the “otherness” of their Moorish characters. In addition, both plays have strangely warped timelines and duration, which,...

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