Othello: Racial Stereotyping through Images of Light and Dark College

In Richard Dyer’s essay, (now book) White, he states:

There are inevitable associations of white with light and therefore safety, and black with dark and therefore danger, and that this explains racism (whereas one might well argue about the safety of the cover of darkness, and the danger of exposure to light); again, and with more justice, people point to the Judaeo-Christian use of white and black to symbolize good and evil, as carried still in such expressions as “a black mark,” “white magic,” “to blacken the character” and so on. (Dyer)

These race and theory principles are prevalent throughout William Shakespeare’s Othello. Through the syntax and imagery Shakespeare utilizes, the motifs of light and dark are painted to emphasize the goodness of white, and the badness of black. Othello, the Moor of Venice, is traditionally read as a man of African decent. (While it could be speculated that he is Arab or Spanish in origin, for this analysis, I will refer to Othello as an African black.)

The play follows the relationship between Othello, a Christian Moor, general of the Venice army, and husband of Desdemona, the daughter of a Venetian senator. In the opening scene of the...

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