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Black & White

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Karen Y

on 4 November 2013

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Transcript of Black & White

Black & White
Thesis Statement
Black & White Qualities
Though white and black contrast, they come in pairs and are inseparable in a society. As an individual, the blackness and whiteness can be shown in the forms of race; people are symbolized by the color of their skin. Black and white can also be reflected in a person's appearance and true character. No person is completely "white" inside and out, nor completely "black". We are all in different shades of grey, as all people are a combination of white and black.
What ideas are suggested by the black & white motif in Shakespeare's Othello?
Appearance VS Reality
Sometimes, despite the fact that people appear to be purely “white”, honest, and innocent, in reality, they could be “black”, evil, and deceitful. It is also true for the other way
Support Evidence 1 - Iago
Appearance : - “white”
- loyal and honorable
- a true friend

Example in Act I, scene 3, line 321-326

Support Evidence 1 - Iago
Reality: - “black”
- Evil, dishonest and deceiving
- Lied to almost every character in the play
- Manipulative due to jealousy

Examples in Act I, scene 1, line 7-35, line 45-70

Othello: So please your grace, my ancient;
A man he is of honest and trust:
To his conveyance I assign my wife,
With what else needful your good grace shall think
To be sent after me.

1. Roderigo: Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.
Iago: Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:
But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;…

2. Iago: O, sir, content you;
I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow'd...

Support Evidence 1 - Othello
Appearance: - “black” by racial color
- Big, strong, and powerful
- General of the Venetian Army
- Honest and trustworthy

Example in Act I, scene 3, line56-57

1. Duke: Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
Against the general enemy Ottoman.

Support Evidence 1 - Othello
Reality: - “white”
- Brave, talented, and trustworthy
- Completely in love and loyal to Desdemona and others
- He turns to a “black” figure at the latter part of the play.

Examples in Act I, scene 3, line 149-196

1. Othello: Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he
Support Evidence 1 - Desdemona
Appearance: - “black”
- disloyal
- Unfaithfulness

Example in Act IV, scene 2, line 82-91

1. Othello: Was this fair paper, this most goodly book,
Made to write 'whore' upon? What committed!
Committed! O thou public commoner!
I should make very forges of my cheeks,
That would to cinders burn up modesty,
Did I but speak thy deeds. What committed!
Heaven stops the nose at it and the moon winks,
The bawdy wind that kisses all it meets
Is hush'd within the hollow mine of earth,
And will not hear it. What committed!

Support Evidence 1 - Desdemona
Reality: - “white”
- She has no flaws
- Innocent, loyal, and faithful
- The truest and the most honest woman

Examples in Act IV, scene 3, line 94

1. Desdemona: I do not think there is such woman.
No person can be completely white; every man is in a shade of grey, a mixture of white and black. (This may even apply to certain qualities.) "But men are men; the best sometimes forget."
“My parts, my title, and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly.”
——Othello, Act I, Scene ii, 36-37
IAGO Do it not with poison. Strangle her in bed,
even the bed she hath contaminated.
OTHELLO Good, good. The justice it pleases. Very good.
——Act IV, Scene I, 226-229
only sees the good qualities of himself
has his dark side too: cruel & jealous
cruelty = grey quality
“For thou hast killed the sweetest innocent
That e’er did lift up eye.”
Emilia, Act V, Scene ii, 237-238
“It is not lost, but what if it were?”
——Desdemona, Act III, Scene iv, 96
most innocent and pure character in the entire play
lied once -- a black speck in her soul
helpful = grey quality
“The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
Is of a constant, loving, noble nature,
And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona
A most dear husband.”
——Iago, Act II, Scene i, 310-314
the "blackest" character
admits the good side of Othello: "honest" Iago
“And by how much she strives to do him good,
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.”
——Iago, Act II, Scene iii, 378-379
In Othello, Shakespeare reflected the black and white motif through three main topics: race, appearance versus reality, and personal qualities.
We see the motif of black and white being played out through the issue of race during the play, specifically in the character’s perception of Othello.
Othello faces prejudice and insecurities due to his black skin colour, many of which are expressed from Iago’s attempt to rob Othello of his entitlements and accomplishments by mentioning his racial inferiority. He sees Othello as an inherently undeveloped individual with an overwhelming vice for lust, due to his outward appearance. The perception of Desdemona is that because of her fair skin and womanly nature, she is a subservient person who is pure. Because these two personalities are so contradictory, Iago believes that Desdemona and Othello being together is “foul”, “unnatural”, and rank.” (3.3.29) The motif of black and white is used here in that Iago, among many others see that black people and white people should not be together due to the connotations that are associated with skin colour.
The point that Shakespeare tries to make in this play is that even though a character’s outward appearance is “black” or “white”, their nature is often opposite of that. With Othello, his appearance makes him out to be a brutish, undeveloped bear of a man. Despite this outward appearance, Othello is really an honest and kind-hearted individual with insecurities stemmed from his skin colour.
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