Othello has been depicted throughout the years in highly variable formsi Because Shakespeare leaves the finer details of description up to the theater producing them, the facial characteristics and even the garb Othello is clothed in is left up to the digression of the theater; they are highly flexible and as one critic postulates, reflect society‘s fears at the time. In post- antebellum South, Othello had been portrayed as negroid, with strong black features and the wooly facial hair characteristic of one.
The critic argues that after 9/11, because of America‘s growing lslamophobia, that our view of Othello has changed to reflect our fears more: now, instead of reflecting negroid fears, they reflect lslamic fears — the “tawny Moor” (Moor as in, Muslim) rather than the “black Negro”, Beyondjust the ethnic identifier (Moor vs. Negro), there is also the connotation of the skin color identifier to be reckoned with. Tawny has a more positive connotation, implying a svelte, toned look with a warm skin tone while black is blunt and still holds the dregs of the racism it had been associated with in the antebellum South.
As of now, I find the negroid Othello to be the more convincing, along with Arabesquedike garb to complete the picture. I understand where critics might postulate that we project onto the character Othello what we fear most in terms of our xenophobia at the time, but because I have never experienced lslamophobia, and better align myself with a fear of the “black Negro”, such a representation appeals more to me My initial impression of Othello differs from my ultimate impression of him Restricted to Act 1, it is Roderigo and Iago who determined how I (the audience or reader) saw Othello The racial and sexual stereotypes of Othello correlate more with that of a Negroid than a Muslim, further supporting my belief that the black Negroid depiction is more convincing than the tawny Moor depiction: “your daughter covered with a Barbary horse” (1‘1 125) However, when Othello does appear on stage his dialogue immediately dispels my prior view of him, asserting that he has little to no sex drive: “I therefore beg it not/to please the palate of my appetite/Nor to comply with heat (the young affects/ in me defunct) and proper satisfaction” (1.
3 296-299) and instead asserts that he is attracted to the beauty of Desdemona’s mind, Othello defies the stereotypes associated with Negros.