Rakhi N P


This paper titled ““Turning Turk”: Othello in the Shackles of an Ethnic Stereotype” tries to show how the language and treatment of the characters in the play Othello parallel itself with the rhetoric of an oriental tradition. It shows how Said’s theory of Orientalism is useful in analyzing the nature of interest that Elizabethan playwrights, especially Shakespeare, have towards East. It elaborates on the cultural intolerance of Elizabethan society and posits Othello as a representation of the earliest insights regarding the idea of tolerating the Moors and foreigners into Europe. The play seems to draw much from the prejudices of the culture in which it is produced and shapes its hero to be what that culture fancies of its “other”. Othello, the person, does commune with and conform to the common discourse of Orientalism. Thus one can conclude with the observation that the play Othello has been textualized in the same fashion by a genuine creator whose life-giving power of imagination (and adaptation) “ represents, animates and constitutes the otherwise silent and dangerous space beyond (the) familiar boundaries” (Said,1979, p.66) of his race and culture. This study proves undoubtedly that Shakespeare’s plays, especially Othello, are framed in the same workshop of Elizabethan Orientalism with its ethnical preconceptions regarding the East.


Shakespeare, Othello, Orientalism, Ethnicity, Racism, Edward Said

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