Othello's Race and Racism

When we consider Shakespeare wrote lived and wrote during the sixteenth century, it would appear it was odd that Shakespeare would compose a lead role in his play for a ‘black’ character, particularly as during this period slavery was peaking and people of colour had very few to no rights. When exploring Othello’s casting of a black man as the lead character we see it was no oversight on his part, instead obviously a ploy on Shakespeare’s part showing race was a controversial topic of this time period. Today in the twenty-first century the topic of race still retains its controversy, however many of today’s modern audiences would find the frank and forthright racist language in Othello demeaning and distasteful. However plays like Othello can be used as agents in the exploration of attitudes, racism and racist views, both within historical and contemporary settings. For example, the introduction scene into Othello provides an opportunity for debate and discussion of the emotional issues pertinent to society, for example, stereo-typing and inter-racial relationships.  
With today’s modern understanding of race, it can be argued Othello was the victim of an ideology which constructs him as ‘different,’ particularly in terms of stereo-types. Othello can be interpreted as a victim of racial ideology in two distinct ways:
firstly Iago’s hatred of Othello can be viewed as partly, racially motivated. This is made obvious by Iago’s colloquial and racially disparagements, such as his describing of Othello in animal like-terms, for example “Thick lips” and his descriptions of Othello as “gullible” and “easily lead by the nose.”
Secondly, and more importantly, Othello can be viewed as a victim of racial ideology because of the way he yields to and accepts the racist constructions of himself.
The title of the play can also be viewed as a simple reproduction of the ideology of racial ‘difference’ by composing Othello as an ‘other’ which invites the audience to see him in...