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William Shakespeare is a prominent English play writer and poet. His works have elaborate themes of love, death and betrayal. These themes featured in the famous play Othello. In this play, the main theme that surfaces is racism. This paper will focus on the play and the portrayal of racism as the main theme. Moor in the play is the Hero, and he is the first black to feature in English Literature (Adler 249). Othello and Desdemona are two protagonists in the play.
They make the play interesting to read because of their roles. The entire plot of the play revolves around Othello, Roderigo and Desdemona. Othello the most innocent and pure character, but he is a subject of racism. Interracial marriage is a theme in the play as well as the aftermath of elopement of Othello and Desdemona (Orkin, Delbanco and Alan 178-180). An in-depth analysis of the conflicts resulting from racism provided in the entire play comes from defined scenes.
Despite Othello’s acquisition of a position in the army, Roderigo, Iago and Barbinito despise him (Shakespeare 176-182). Othello and Desdemona are not waivered despite sharp criticism of their marriage. Othello becomes the puppet of Iago and Roderigo because of his colour. The colour disparity affects his relationship with Desdemona.
Roderigo uses the racial slur ‘Thick Lips’ in reference to Othello. This disgraces Othello and the rest of humanity who reign from black minority. The plans by Roderigo and Iago to destroy the relationship of Othello and Dedemona finally succeed. Othello is insecure in his relationship, and there is a common fear that Desdemona might cheat on him. Barbanito believes that her daughter agreed to marry Othello because of trickery. Barbanito portrays Othello as a person not to be loved but despised (Adler 249). Othello’s racial background is the issue in this case and thus, he is the race factor in the Act. I being the audience would like to side with Othello who is the subject of racial injustice. His character encourages one to provide justification of racial injustice against the blacks.
Despite having an honorable position, Othello is considered low profile because of his skin color. People full of jealous take the love cultivated between Othello and Dedemona. As we approach the end of Act 5, racial prejudice can lead to decisions, which are heinous. White culture, on a different account, despises the marriage between a white and a non-white person. They are judged indifferently. This disparity is imminent in the society.
Othello is a brave soldier who faces discrimination. He feels insecure because of his racial background and age (Shakespeare 176-182). This makes him go out of balance and ends up killing Desdemona. Whites consider themselves superior where only their kind can love and marry them. Shakespeare proves this aspect in Othello Act a fact that has made authors like Doris Adler and Martin Orkin to concur.
In her writing, The Rhetoric of Black and White in Othello, Adler argues that Othello is black skinned who is metaphorically portrayed as a white. Desdemona, according to Adler calls Othello metaphorically white. Desdemona calls Othello fair and likewise he calls her ‘Black heart’. Adler argues that the meaning of Bianca which means ‘white’ and is called fair Bianca, which ironic since she plays the role of a whore. Iago is portrayed as ‘blackness of the devil’ at the end of the play.
The word black has featured eleven times in the entire play according to Adler. Iago tells Barbanito, Desdemona’s father that an old black person is in love with her daughter. Adler points out that the blackness of Othello has been contrasted with whiteness of Desdemona. In one, act “black” Othello is honoured, and in the acts 1 and 2, he is judged on racial accounts. The argument portrayed by Adler is that Shakespeare wanted the target audience to understand racism.
In his work, Martin Orkin, considers the attitudes towards races in England when Othello was written. He focuses on how Shakespeare defines the theme and concludes that the play opposed acts of racism. Orkin pays close attention to the hospitality Orthello received in South Africa. According to Orthello, there is a racist sentiment that is characterized by Iago, Rodriego and Barbanito. Iago not only show racial prejudice against Othello but also appoints Cassio for a post that Othello needed.
Barbanito portrays this racial injustice by attempting to send Othello to prison for bewitching his daughter. He defines Othello as a beast animal tupping on her daughter. Othello is aware of his skin color, but in this case a victim of circumstances (Shakespeare 176-182). People who are showing contempt and disgrace towards his skin color surround him. The relationship between Desdemona and Othello is shattered because of racial prejudice (Adler 249). Othello is a victim of this unruly treatment and their love life dismantled.
At some instance, Barbanito refers Othello as a foul thief. This comment illustrates the contempt of Desdemona’s father towards Othello. The push of Iago and Roderigo to destroy the relationship of Othello is based on the racial prejudice. The indifference on skin colour lead to their act of pushing for an end of their love. This led to the heinous act of killing Desdemona (Orkin, Delbanco and Alan 178-180). Shakespeare, in this play, portrays racial indifference, which is still experienced in the modern world. Shakespeare balances the character of Othello by giving him the role of a soldier as well as racial prejudice as his downside (Shakespeare 176-182). Racial prejudice masks the good qualities of Othello by subjecting him to racial indifference.
The commentary by Martin Orkin and Adler serves to supplement the theme of racism portrayed in the play. Racism is a major problem facing humanity. In the play, Shakespeare addresses this problem by creating the character Othello (Adler 249). In this case, Shakespeare uses the indifferences that emanate from interracial marriage. Interracial marriage is a subset theme in the whole topic of racism (Orkin, Delbanco and Alan 178-180). Shakespeare does a commendable job of illustrating this theme using Othello as the main character. Iago and Barbanito are against this marriage. Racism is a bad influence to the relationship and see its fall.
Adler, Doris. “The Rhetoric of Black and White in Othello”. Shakespeare Quarterly: 25.2 (1974 Spring). pp 248-257
Orkin, Martin, Delbanco, Nicholas and Alan, Cheuse. “Othello and the ‘Plain Face’ of Racism Drama. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print. “Shakespeare Quarterly 38.2 (Summer1987): 166-188.
Shakespeare, William. “Othello.” Literature: Craft & Voice. Volume 3: Boston: Pearson. 2012. Print.
Over the years, the topic of gay marriage has been a constant sore spot for many governments and religious institutions alike. As if the dilemma of allowing same-sex relationships was not enough, the constant calls and support for gay marriage have all but abated as the years pass. Marriage is considered one of the most important institutions in the society because it is the foundation upon which families are built, and hence the society propagated (Scherer, 220). However, the discrimination and stigmatization with which the topic of gay marriage has been met with form many quarters of the world leaves a lot to be desired insofar as legalizing gay marriage is concerned. Nonetheless, gay marriage should not only be accepted, but also legalized in every nation in the world (Oosting). Below are some of the reasons that espouse on why gay marriage should be supported.
Many of the world’s nations are democracies, and the need to satisfy every member of the society ranks highly among the priorities of the governments in charge of these nations. In any democracy, it is paramount that all citizens feel that they are part and parcel of the government and all the institutions that the government oversees. In democracies, it is also mandatory that the governments charged with running affairs of state ensure that the rights and freedoms of all its citizens are observed, and that no citizen, or group of citizens suffers from discrimination.
One of the quarters from which gay marriage has constantly received harsh discrimination is religion (Rauch, 77). Religion has always been a sensitive topic among a large number of individuals, and the need to have religious conformity is one of the innate desires of society. However, in the very constitutions that many governments and religious institutions fall under, religious toleration and freedom is heavily emphasized. Consequently, the state must protect the religious freedoms of all its citizens. The fact that many of these states go on to still oppose gay marriage is a manifestation of double standards.
This is because the state makes the institution of marriage a religious one, while in reality it is a secular one. It makes no sense for any government to ban gay marriage on the pretext that it contradicts religion because marriage cuts across all religions. Some religions are not entirely against the concept of gay marriage, and assuming that all religions are is one of the fallacies that governments and religious institutions hold as truth. Simply because a majority of religions do not accept the fact that same-sex couples can marry and raise families does not mean that the government must ignore the minority religions that think otherwise. Today, a large number of progressive protestant Christians, Muslims, Nationalist Hindus, Buddhists and even Orthodox Jews are supportive of gay marriages (Reports).
Consequently, it is not only unfair, but also discriminative to assume that the rights and opinions of these individuals do not count simply because they are a minority. It is true that in a democracy the majority rules, but it is extremely unwise for any democratic government to ignore the freedoms and rights of the minority groups. The rights of minority groups should be protected and the right of minority groups, such as same-sex couples to marry cannot be ignored. The First Amendment of the Constitution entitles every citizen to the protection of their religious views, and it is about time that these rights are considered insofar as religion and gay marriage is concerned (The Guardian).
The institution of the family is the basic building block of any society. For any society to flourish and prosper, it must honor and respect the institution of the family. When individuals choose to start a family, children are often an integral part of the process. The family provides children with love and comfort, as well as a strong sense of belonging through the establishment of family ties (Andryszewski, 264). To assume that same-sex couples are incapable of providing love and support to children like heterosexual couples do is not only misinformed, it is also insulting.
Gay households are just as capable as heterosexual households insofar as providing love and support is concerned. At the end of the day, having a father and a mother is not the basis of love and happiness in a family, otherwise virtually every family today would be happy and free of conflicts and problems. What really counts is the effort that the parents put into maintaining a healthy relationship that creates a conducive environment for child growth and development. Unless there is a striking flaw that prevents gay households from providing these requirements, it makes no sense to argue that such households are incapable of raising families with strong family values.
Sexual choice or orientation is one of the most misunderstood concepts today. With the acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriages in many parts of the world becoming a reality, it has become apparent that sexual choice is both unchangeable and incapable of being chosen (Scherer, 109). The argument that social influences are a huge contributing factor towards the sexual choices that individuals make is utterly misconstrued. This is because one does not choose their sexual orientation as they would a bar of chocolate out of a pile of different bars of chocolate.
In this sense, allowing gay marriage prevents the constant impetus among gay individuals to try and determine whether they are truly gay or not. This impetus is more often than not closely associated with a highly risky sexual lifestyle as these individuals try to determine exactly where they lie on the sexual orientation scale. Due to this, allowing gay marriages would go a long way towards reducing the risky sexual lifestyles that many gay individuals lead. This plays an essential role in fighting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV (Rauch, 191). It is also noteworthy that this would allow gay individuals to settle down and concentrate their energies on raising families with strong family values. Gay households are capable of raising children, whether adopted or their own, to become responsible and upright citizens.
In life, only two things are constant-death and change. Regardless of the time and setting, death and change are the only two things that do not vary in any society. One of the greatest tragedies of life, I believe, is the failure to accept change. It is unwise to fail to accept change because then one tends to remain in the past, and living in the present becomes a persistent nightmare. In this light, it is necessary that many of the nations and states in the USA that still outlaw gay marriage wake up and smell the coffee.
Today being gay is not a phenomenon that is unheard of, or a social taboo that is unspoken. Andryszewski posits that gay couples and marriages are a reality in our society today, and the sooner everyone accepts this reality the easier it will become to live with it (111). In the never-ending quest to understand the dynamics of the gay mind and lifestyle, researchers have concluded that homosexuality has a biological causation. Simply put, this means that the choice to become gay is not dependent on the individual, but is rather a biological disposition. As a result, it makes no sense to punish an individual by denying them their right to marry and raise a family because of something that is out of their control.
Although this causation is not genetic, the fact that it is biological is enough to warrant that gay couples are allowed to marry because their sexual orientation is the result of biological processes that occurred before they were born (Nagle, 155). Some of the evidences that strongly support this standpoint are manifested in the physical traits of homosexual individuals. Homosexual men more often than not have softer voices, while lesbians have somewhat muscular bodies. While these traits are not apparent in every homosexual individual, the fact that they manifest themselves in many homosexual individuals highlights biological undertones insofar as homosexuality in men and women is concerned (The Guardian). Based on this information, the presumption that gay individuals can choose to stop being gay at will, as though they were operating a ‘gay switch’ on and off, is completely false. The fact that their sexual orientation is something biological warrants that these individuals are allowed to marry just as straight individuals are, because their sexual preferences are not of their own choosing.
It is often said love and let live. Love is arguably the most powerful emotion that the human mind can experience. The ability of love to create a special bond between two individuals is what makes it’s a very powerful emotion. Contrary to popular belief, love is not made to exist between a man and a woman. Love can also exist between two individuals of the same sex, ad this is a reality that must be accepted. Save for individuals in arranged or forced marriages, love is the basis of all marriages.
Consequently, marriage should be allowed between two individuals of the same sex (Scherer, 87). The fact that two individuals of the same sex would be willing to build a life together because of their love is strong enough to support the claim that gay marriages should be allowed. The joy of marriage, of building a life together and possibly raising a family should not be a reserve of straight individuals and heterosexual couples. All individuals should be allowed to experience this joy and process, regardless of whether they are gay or straight (Reports). The fact that many states have a definite definition of a relationship is a gross mistake in itself. According to Andryszewski this is because it is obnoxious to have a text-book definition of something as diverse and as complicated as a relationship (165).
Denying gay couples the right to marry on the pretext that their relationship does not fit the state’s ‘definition’ of a relationship is discrimination at the very least. Marriage also comes with a variety of benefits. It is more than a mere legal status because it affects key facets of one’s life such as insurance benefits, tax filing statuses, agency law and joint ownership of property. These are real benefits that could potentially alter the course of one’s life, and restricting these benefits to heterosexual couples and straight individuals is a huge failure for any state that opposes gay marriage (Rauch, 301).
Denying gay individuals and couples the opportunity to enjoy these benefits because their sexual orientation is not considered ‘common’ or ‘natural’ is a manifestation of the double-standards that many states exercise. This is because the government is elected to ensure that the rights of their electorate are observed. In essence, this translates to gay individuals being perceived as second-rate citizens, when it should clearly not be the case (Snyder, 181). Simply because gay couples and individuals are not the majority does not mean that their rights should be ignored. Allowing gay marriage would also be extremely helpful to gay individuals in critical times such as when they are incapacitated. Having family that would make decisions that favor them would prove extremely helpful in cases such as medical emergencies.
Marriage is a sacred institution. Regulating the institution of marriage according to religion, and more so the predominant religions is selfish and unrealistic. The fact that marriage is a legal activity cannot be ignored. As a result, gay marriage should be allowed because it is essentially a right that they are allowed to exercise, just like any other straight citizen. Marriage itself is joining of two individuals that love each other, and that are willing to build a life together (Snyder, 76). Denying gay individuals the opportunity to enjoy this experience is unfair. Gay marriages are capable of being just as successful as heterosexual marriages in terms of raising children preserving the institution of marriage. Consequently, gay marriages should be legalized in all states, if not for the numerous benefits it promises the gay community, then for the sake of equality and fairness.
Andryszewski, Tricia. Same-sex Marriage: Moral Wrong or Civil Right?Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2008. Print.
Nagle, Jeanne. Same-sex Marriage: The Debate. New York, NY: Rosen Pub, 2010. Print.
Oosting, Jonathan. 'MSU Survey: Majority Of Michigan Residents Support Gay Marriage As Judge Considers Ban'. MLive.com. N. p., 2014. Web. 10 Jul. 2014.
Rauch, Jonathan. Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. New York: Times Books/Henry Holt and Co, 2004. Print.
Reports, Staff et al. 'Marriage Equality'. LGBTQ Nation. N. p., 2014. Web. 10 Jul. 2014.
Scherer, Lauri S. Gay Marriage. Detroit: Greenhaven Press/Gale Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Snyder, R C. Gay Marriage and Democracy: Equality for All. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005. Print.
The Guardian,. 'US Researchers Find Evidence That Homosexuality Linked To Genetics'. N. p., 2008. Web. 10 Jul. 2014.
A photograph featuring one of the J.Crew executives and her son recently set the internet and social media ablaze. It was a normal mother-son photo, but there was something peculiar about the young boy’s toenails. Apparently, the mother had painted her son's toenails hot pink and was very comfortable that her son’s favorite color was pink despite the fact that such behavior is associated to girls (CBS News, 2011). In most cases, girls or boys who are attracted to things or exhibit behavior associated to the opposite gender are subject to teasing at school. Some parents Condon such behavior while others are highly aggressive in trying to change it. The main question is what causes such behavior. Is being attracted to things that are associated with the opposite sex linked to homosexuality and is it necessary for parents to intervene when their children exhibit such behavior. The paper seeks to explore appropriate and inappropriate gender behavior with respect to a story that featured at CBS news on 13th April, 2011 (CBS News, 2011).
Is There a Link Between Homosexuality and Preference for Things Set for the Opposite Gender?
To respond to this question effectively, it is important to find out whether gay people are born or made. There are two arguments that are equally valid. First, gay people are gay by choice and second; homosexuality is biological and that the affected people have no choice to it. Although there are biological explanations on why gay people are gay, the social aspect of homosexuality stands out. Children are born to an environment that they are not familiar with and what they become is dependent on the kind of parenting they experienced. For instance, a boy child born to a loving mother is likely to look unknowingly for a spouse who is most likely like his mother (Palmer, 2014). On the other hand, a boy born to harsh and violent mother will seek solace from the father and male friends. Getting back to the story highlighted above, the case of a boy adopting feminine traits may be an indicator of homosexuality. As the child grows up, the preference for things associated with the opposite sex grows and he or she becomes so deeply engorged to the desire of wanting to change his/her sexuality. If the parents support and nurture the traits, they become even stronger. In a research carried out by Brian Palmer, he argued that children as young as three years who exhibit traits of the opposite gender have a high likelihood of being gay when they finally get to choose their sexual orientation (Palmer, 2014).
Psychological Consequences for the Behavior
Human beings bring out the nature and functionality of their minds through their behavior and actions. Through the study of human behavior, psychologists can devise methods of stopping or encouraging certain traits. The child may engage in a particular act that is unnatural. However, the reaction from the parents determines the likelihood of the child to repeat the same act in the future. A boy who prefers feminine items tends to dislike masculine things. The dislike advances from simple items such as nail polish and love for a particular color to responsibilities meant for the opposite gender. To the end some of them want to change their physical appearance so as to assume a more feminine or masculine look. The actual impact of such traits is the lack of self-acceptance that brings along several negative perceptions about one’s nature.
Is Such Behavior a Sign of Paraphilia?
Paraphilia is a condition in which a person achieves sexual arouse through fantasies about a particular object. The condition may be exhibited in several ways that include engaging in sexual behavior with children, animals, underwear or acts such as inflicting pain on one’s self or exposure. A person with paraphilia exhibits abnormal sexual behavior that is uncommon with normal adults (Hickey, 2006). There are different types of paraphilia. To sample just a few, the most common include exhibition, fetishism, frotteurism and pedophilia. A person with pedophilia has fantasies or urges to engage in illegal sexual activities such as sex with minors. Engaging in sexual activity with a child who is below 13 years is rather extreme. Frotteurism is exhibited as the urge to rub one’s genitals against the body of a stranger or random person. Fetishism involves sexual arousal from touching certain objects while exhibitionism is about exposing genitals to an unsuspecting stranger (Hickey, 2006). In all the types of paraphilia, attraction to things that are associated to the opposite gender is not mentioned. This rules out the possibility of the condition being paraphilia.
Need for Intervention
Human behavior is defined by the nature of parenting. Children learn how to behave and react to certain conditions from their parents. In most cases, children uphold certain behavior because their parents Condon it (Hickey, 2006). When a child exhibits liking for things that are traditionally for the opposite sex at a very tender age, it is important for parents to intervene. However, if the same happens at a later stage in life, the best thing is for the parents to appreciate the child. At the tender age, it is to coach a child and help them adapt certain character. Young children do not understand why they do certain things and most likely they are not very deeply engorged into the behaviors. There is a high probability that a child might be misguided on what things are good. However, when such a decision is made later in life, then it means that the child made a well informed decision.
Although rare, some people develop liking for things that are associated with the opposite gender. Some of those people may end up being homosexual especially if they have a bad experience with people of the same gender. However, liking things that are associated to the opposite gender does not always lead to homosexuality although there is a high likelihood. Nonetheless, such behavior cannot be linked to paraphilia. From a personal perspective, parents should try to correct such behavior if it occurs at a very tender age. This is because; a Childs behavior can be altered when they are young but not later.
CBS News. (2011). Boy in pink nail polish sparks online outrange.
Palmer, B. (2014). When do gay kids start acting gay?.
Hickey, E. W. (2006). Sex crimes and paraphilia. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Education.
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