Racism and Prejudice in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice.
According to the Oxford dictionary, racism is “dislike directed towards someone of a different race built on the idea that one’s own race is superior,” while prejudice is “a biased opinion that is not built on reason or actual experience” (np). Throughout history, racism has been the main factor in numerous important events in the world. Racism can also be defined as the biased treatment of others based specifically on the physical appearance of a person and also the ideology that one race is better than the other. During The Elizabethan era, the queen issued a letter to the Major of London to deport all blackmoores in England back to their countries. The fact that the queen herself ordered the removal of all blackmoores, stimulated the idea of racial difference between black and white which further opened the door to racial discrimination. There is a popular English saying that goes “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, due to our own bias, we turn to judge people by their physical appearance instead of their character. The play Othello by William Shakespeare is an example of a literary work that displays how others judge based on race. The play displays ideas and problems that can be found in the early twentieth century and similarly today, and they are: gender and color. Despite these similarities, these two generations are more different than they are similar in terms of societal views.
One of the similarities between race and prejudice in the early twentieth century and today is that they are both heavily influenced by gender equality. In the early twentieth century, women were discriminated against when it comes to societal roles. Women were only known to be weak and soft, and the only things that women were thought to be good at were to be good house wives to their husbands and produce babies. Throughout the sixteenth century until the early twentieth century, women were treated like property and were not allowed to utter a word or make any contribution when men were talking, except when they were called on to speak “I do beseech you, send for the lady to the sagittary”. (Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 3, 114-115) Also women were “bound” (Act 1, Scene 1,180) to show maximum respect and honor to their parents, especially to their fathers and husbands. Women were not allowed to go to war because they were seen to be weak and would be a distraction to the men “I will your serious and great business scant when she is with me” (Act 1, Scene 3, 265) Due to this, women’s only job or role was to be housewives and servants to their husband. Moreover, if a women was seen cheating on her husband, she became a disgrace to her family and the husband had every right to leave, but if a man cheats on his wife it is normal (WHO said this and Why?)”If wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties…Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have? Let them use us well…” (Act 4, Scene 3, 88-103) This shows how women in the play are being discriminated against when it comes to doing the same things as men.
There is no doubt about how far we have come on the idea of gender equality. In our society today, women are no longer seen to be only good at producing children and taking care of the house. Rather today’s women are partaking in things that are traditionally dominated by men. However, there are still prejudices against women in many different fields. According to