Jan 25, 2018 in Literature


From the reading above, there are several interesting episodes which are related to the play Othello by William Shakespeare. In “afterthoughts” (chapter 10), the author starts by narrating about actors who impersonated themselves black Moors on the English stage though they were Europeans wearing black make-ups. Though these actors were representing the people of sub-Saharan ancestry, their gestures and words said nothing about them and instead, they revealed much about the European cultures. It is funny to note how these performances contributed to building of the notion that these performances were of white people in opposition to those who were coded as black. The black Moor was imagined by the English audience as the origin of racial attitudes in the twentieth century through the entertainment they provided.

Playing the black face roles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be used as evidence to show Othello’s influence on the white’s imaginations. Othello is weighed down by the cultural baggage, and consequently, it became a play adopted by most blacks in the world. Some people view Othello as western literature and many people use the text while discussing racism. It is not acceptable to many people for a white to play the role of a black person in a play. At some point, the role of Othello is restricted to black actors hence his role is taken for granted.

There are some dangers in the play when the roles in Othello are restricted to black actors. This brings a controversy in the play as some people may want to know the exact roles that black actors should play. This clearly brings out the theme of racism in Othello as actors with African descent are not given an opportunity to perform the play.

In the play, itself Othello is portrayed as one of the first African American heroes in the English literature. He has been able to rise to a powerful position from a military general. However, since he is a black person, he is seen as an outsider where he is exposed to pretty overt racism. Even his family is racist. His wife’s father believes that the marriage between the two was out of trickery, since he does not understand how a black person could marry a black. A fear of miscegenation is portrayed in the play Othello as it touches on gender and sexuality. Some people do not approve the intermixing of the various races through marriages or sex.     

In the article, the author is concerned more about the issue of white actors imposing to be black. He asks whether there are no black actors. Some people do not have any issue with that, but others are so sensitive. Others believe that such changes are healthy as the audiences should be shielded from actions and languages which are racist. There are no racist actions or language in the play, the only problem is white actors playing the roles of black. The author should understand that one of the themes in the play that Shakespeare wants to bring out is racism. It is true that some people do not note the effects of such change of roles, but eventually, there are those who will notice. Most modern actors who take Othello are obliged to explain the reason as to why he is not playing him as a black person. The author is right in his assertion that the play Othello contributed to the increase in racism from seventeenth century up to the twentieth century. The black culture was not appreciated since those who played the black role were white. The attitude of the audience towards blacks may have changed from the play.    


Related essays