This essay will explore and explain the different views the audiences have on Othello at the end of act 1 scene 3.
I will do this by analyzing what each character met says and does, and how it would affect the perceptions of Othello. The information used will be related to both a contemporary and modern audience.The majority of an Elizabethan audience would have disliked Othello instantly when they found out he was black. This would have been because people in the Elizabethan era were considered as strong racists. This was too such an extent that Queen Elizabeth tried and succeeded in passing a law sending all black people back to their country of origin.Also because of their hatred of black people they began calling them “black”. This term was used due it its extremely bad connotations such as death and dirt.
This was just another way of demeaning them.However this would not have been the view of all Elizabethans due to everybody being unique and individual. Even though large amounts of people were racist, few weren’t. This meant that finding out Othello was black would not have affected their view of him.
The majority of an Elizabethan audience would have been racist, but they all displayed their feelings in different ways. This was partially due to their personal feelings, and partially due to where they were sitting in the theatre. Different social status’s sat at different sections of the theatre. Sat at the bottom of the theatre were the viewers known as the groundlings. These were poorer viewers who mainly wanted to see aggression, so acted positively to any violence or insults thrown.
Upper class people sat higher up in the theatre, and were not as bloodthirsty as the groundlings. Often, they shared the same views but they would just portray them in a different manor, most likely shocked and confused.A modern audience would mainly have an opposite opinion to that of the contemporary. This is because in society nowadays people are considered more equal and all have the same rights. People now not only live amongst black people, but also socialize. This would leave their opinion unchanged by the fact that Othello is black.
Those who are still racist in today’s society may have had the same views as the majority of Elizabethans would have. Once again it all depends on the individual because everybody have different views.In 1sc1 the audience do not meet Othello, instead they hear many biased opinions from white men. The fact that they are white gave them the popularity vote with the Elizabethan audience, so what they said would have been more valid.The first character to give an opinion of Othello is Iago who immediately shows his blatant dislike for him by saying, “serve my turn upon him”. This tells the audience that he is after revenge.
His opinions about Othello are strongly biased because of this. We find out that he dislikes Othello because he gave the job of lieutenant to Michael Cassidy “a great arithmetician.”The language Iago uses are very strong and abusive. He calls him the “devil”. To an Elizabethan audience this would have been extremely relevant to their perception of black people.
Many of the contemporary audience would have believed that black people were also involved in voodoo and strange magic’s, henceforth the mention of the “devil”.Rodrigo is the next character unveiled to the audience. He has the same views as Iago and is shown when he calls Othello “thick lips”. This was a racist term based on the stereotypical appearance of black people. The contemporary audience would have positively reacted to this language; where as the majority of a modern audience would find it shallow.Roderigo hates Othello because he is jealous. He has been trying to impress Desdemona for quite a while but now Othello is with her.
His love for Desdemona is shown by having Brabantio saying “my daughter is not for thee”.Due to both of Roderigo and Iago’s hatred of Othello they go to tell Brabantio that he is sleeping with and planning on marrying his daughter (Desdemona). Brabantio is in his room so they have to shout up”What ho Brabantio,” is what Roderigo says to try and awake Brabantio, but his voice is not powerful enough so Iago has to intervene with much stronger language.”Awake… thieves, thieves.
” Iago’s stronger and bolder language awakes Brabantio. Shakespeare added this on early in the play so the audience can instantly interpret that Iago is a strong personality. It is later furthered in the same conversation when he tells Brabantio “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.” Aswell as it showing Iago’s strength it also sums up the separation between blacks and whites in the Elizabethan era. Not only was unheard of that black and white people were friends, but for them to be in a relationship would have been unthinkable. The contemporary audience would use this as more ammuninition against Othello, trying to damn him in any way possibleStill a modern audiences view would be neutral, because in today’s society it is usually considered natural for black and white people to be in a relationship. Still some people would disagree but they are now outspoken by more powerful people.When Brabantio hears the news that Othello is sleeping with his daughter he responds, as the majority of people would have during that era, angrily.
His anger was not only because his daughter was with a black man, but also because she lied to him. Elizabethan males were expected to have their wife and their family under control, so if one went astray it would dent his image in society. Not only was Brabantio’s image dented because his daughter went stray, but it was even more heavily due to it being with a black man. This would greatly hurt a proud man like BrabantioBrabantio’s disgust leads him to go and try and get Othello killed. When he finds the duke he tries to explain his story to him using stereotypical racist claims such as “witchcraft,” and “charms.” Many Elizabethans believed black people practiced this so was more than plausible excuse. He also shows his disgust at his daughter by saying “I am glad I have no other child, for thy escape would cause me tyranny.
” This quote shows how his pride has came even before his love and happiness of his daughter, which in that era may have been acceptable, but is not in modern society.By Shakespeare having all of these biased opinions he is playing on the established views of the Elizabethan audience. He has basically said what the Elizabethans would have thought, via his characters. This would intrigue his viewers and get them involved in the play.At this point in the play there are no positive references to Othello, but only opinion from those who believe he has wronged them. To me this leaves all of them opinions unaccountable so I still have no view on what Othello may be like.The Elizabethan audience would just use all references to Othello as more reason to hate him due to their extreme racism.
The next view is that of The Duke, who is a very powerful character and in a position of high authority. Brabantio tells him what has happened and to the contemporary audiences surprise, both sides of the story are wanted. This makes the duke the first character to accept Othello and give equal rights, which never happened to black people in Elizabethan times. To a modern audience they would be relieved that somebody had finally allowed Othello’s view to be counted. Being the voice of reason the duke listens.
He defends Othello by saying he is “far more fair than black.” That quote shows that even though he may have a black exterior, he is a very reliable and trustworthy man. Those attributes were never associated with black people but commonly with whites, hence why he is “far more fair.”The Duke also tries to comfort Brabantio after him hearing how Othello and Desdemona got together. He says, ” I think this tale would win my daughter too.” This is both a compliment to Othello and comforting Brabantio saying it was not his fault and not to be ashamed.Othello is also called “valiant,” and is told they must “straight employ” him. This is in the context of his military capabilities.
The Duke here shows the audience how valuable and vital Othello is to their military. Once again The Duke has shown another advantageous part of Othello.At this point the contemporary audience would probably be disgusted at the fact that a white man had stuck up for a black man, and that Othello was not now dead.A modern audience would be relieved that Othello has been given a chance and now know how it is just a love story, nothing to discriminate a man for.
After the Duke, Desdemona, the lady who is sleeping with and has married Othello enters. In the contemporary audience, before she speaks, there would be two different views of her. These are ones of sympathy, that she may have been the victim of magic, and ones of utter disgust that she married a black man.Desdemona presents the audience with a different view of Othello.
One with love. She tells her father and The Duke how she “saw Othello’s visage in his mind.” This shows how she fell in love with him through his stories and no magic was part of it, as the modern audience would already have thought, because it is now known that black people aren’t magical. Finding out that she was really in love with Othello would have left hatred for both Othello and Desdemona within the Elizabethan audience, due to their extreme racism.Finally the audience meets Othello who doesn’t do, as some would anticipate. The contemporary audience expects Othello to be a mean and vicious man but this is not the case. He is confronted with violence but dismisses it powerfully.
He tells them with swords to him “put your bright swords down for the due will rust them.” By having Othello being so calm and assertive under pressure it shows he is a strong character and very noble. Anybody could have retaliated but he handled the situation responsibly.
Othello also tells the audience how Brabantio “oft invited” him round his house and they were friends, which proves Brabantio to be a hypocrite. This shows he did not hate Othello prior to the marriage of Desdemona and that Brabantio was only racist when it suited him.After all the information the audience have been given I still think there would be a gap between what the contemporary and modern would think, at the end of 1sc3.The majority contemporary audience would not like Othello due to their viscous racism and the negative views they had heard.The modern audience would probably see it different because they are more educated and most have social experience with black people. People nowadays would believe that Othello has not done anything wrong and has been victimized because of his skin colour.
The opinions negative about him were all biased because they all hated him for a certain reason, so them opinions cannot be valid.Although throughout the essay I have explored what both a modern and contemporary audience would think, not all my answers are correct. This is due to everybody being individual, so I could only stereotype the people of that era. People as individuals have many things that may change there view i.
e. sex, age, and upbringing.I, as part of the modern audience believe Othello is being victimized unfairly just because he is a black man.Overall I believe my essay has shown that people maturing and knowledge being gained drastically affects the views of an audience.
This is shown by the large gap between a contemporary audiences view and a modern audiences view.