Essay About Othello
The central topics that are discussed throughout the tragedy are gender and race, to which Othello exposes limitations and changes of perception during the play. Othello and Desdemona also anticipate utopian values that lead to issues in character relationships that lead to tragic consequences. Throughout this essay I am going to analyze the importance and effects of gender and race in the Early Modern period and finally come to a conclusion if the dominant ideologies are subverted or are they firmly re-established.
Othello´s perception of race in Early Modern times was gradually changing. Being born as a North-African moor and not having previously experienced any racial inferiority, makes it accurate for him to state, “My parts, my title and my perfect soul, / Shall manifest me rightly” (I.ii.31-32). However, due to Iago´s successfully played mind games, that are manifested in order to achieve revenge on him. In addition, Iago believes that men are more significant than women, even more, when it comes to their reliability. He uses it as a weapon against Othello, knowing that if he can make Othello doubt Desdemona´s faithfulness, he is going to win his trust over hers. Othello quite easily becomes influenced by Iago and announces, ¨And yet how nature, erring from itself¨ (III.iii.233). As Iago continues to use his manipulative skills, Othello gets to a point where he doesn´t question his reliability and becomes convinced that Desdemona was unfaithful. Also, Brabantio says to Othello, ¨Run from her garage to the sooty bosom, / Of such a thing as though-to fear, not to delight¨ (I.ii.73-74), leading also other characters to start to judge him for his possible actions, because of his racial inequality. Therefore, Othello begins to feel inferior and identifies himself as someone who is a part of the minority.
However, race inevitably goes hand in hand with gender ideologies. The Early Modern period was a men dominated society, that forbid women to express themselves nor their words were conceivable. It is evident that the majority of men characters consider women as naturally treacherous, as Iago claims, ¨If she be fair and wise, faimess and wit, / The one´s for use, the other useth it¨ (II.i.135). In the tragedy, there are numerous discourses that display men ownership of women. For instance, when Desdemona reveals to her father that she is in love with Othello, Brabantio perceives it as a theft, ‘O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow’d my daughter¨ (I.ii.62).
Being said that, regards Ryan´s statement it would make us agree that Desdemona desires to oppose and fight for the equality by being direct and sincere when she speaks her mind. Since she is genuine and fair, she finds Othello very attractive as he has the power, but at the same time as someone who might be lacking love and understanding from others, which she desires to nourish him with. Nevertheless, Desdemona turns her back to the society and knowing that it will disapprove her marriage, she gets married in secret. Othello from other hand desires loyalty and honesty at its highest and therefore expects this quality to be met in others as he claims, ¨Certain, men should be what they seem¨ (III.iii.134), which makes him to believe Iago´s filthy lies and leads him to disrespect her wife, ¨Was this fair paper, this most goodly book, Made to write ‘whore upon’?¨ (4.2. ll. 70-71). Othello, from another hand, should look at events with a more critical point of view and not so utopian, since he lacks rational thinking when it would be most needed.
Finally, the main ideas and values of the play are mainly subverted as Othello kills himself and his misguided believe makes him justified to kill Desdemona. Within their death also the ideas are not passed forward or couldn´t be re-established, mostly because after Othello kills Desdemona he pleases Gratiano to understand him and see him as someone who loved too much but just wasn´t wise enough, Gratiano responds to it with, ¨All that is spoke is marred¨ (V.ii.374), showing disinterest. As Jonathan Dollimore has said, dissidence may provoke brutal repression, and that shows not that it was all ruse of power to consolidate itself, but that ¨the challenge really was unsettling¨ (Fautlines, Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading, Alan Sinfield, Clarendon press, Oxford).