Racism in Othello
Choose one non-dramatic text offered on the module, (an extract from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Literary Remains,) and show how it might help us understand Othello.
The extract presents a sustained attack by Coleridge on Shakespeare for his lack of realism in the 'monstrous' depiction of a marriage between a 'beautiful Venetian girl,' and a 'veritable negro,' in Othello. He sees Shakespeare's transformation of a 'barbarous negro' into a respected soldier and nobleman of stature as 'ignorant', since at the time, 'negroes were not known except as slaves.' (Appendix) The extract seems to raise two questions - how central is the taboo of miscegeny to the play, and to what extent is Othello's reputation able to counter this prejudice?
It is certainly not hard to conclude that it is probably Shakespeare's most controversial play. There is a clear theme of racism throughout, one which was firmly embedded in the Venetian society which rejects the marriage of Othello and Desdemona as erring, 'against all rules of nature,' [1.3.102] Nothing separates Othello from, 'the wealthy curled darlings of our nation,' [1.2.68] except skin-colour - he matches or even...
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