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Othello - Marxist/Post-Colonialist & Feminist Interpretation

            William Shakespeare, undoubtedly the most famous literary figure of all time, wrote many plays in his lifetime including four major tragedies - Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello. This publication focuses on Othello only, and contains a selection of various critical interpretations and essays by eminent Shakespeare scholars. Each essay closely examines and analyses original perspectives on Shakespeare's Othello through a variety of frameworks - historical, Marxist, reader-response, feminist, psychoanalytical and postcolonial. In this introduction, I will discuss the Marxist/post-colonialist as well as the feminist view on Othello as an entrée to an intriguing meal of critiques to one of Shakespeare's most captivating tragedies.
             During one performance of Othello, in Stendhal, 1822, a soldier on guard duty .
             "seeing Othello about to kill Desdemona, shouted: It will never be said that in my prescence a confounded Negro has killed a white woman!' Whereupon he fired his gun and broke an arm of the actor who was playing the Moor."" (Taken from Othello, by Pechter).
             Today, this strange incident seems rather hilarious as our society more readily accepts those in the lower social classes and is, I believe, more multicultural (we cannot say completely multicultural as racism is still, and perhaps always will be, evident) than an audience in the early 19th century. However, such was the reaction of the audience viewing the play even some two hundred years after the Shakespearean context (in the early 1600's). The soldier on guard duty obviously still had social and racial prejudices against Othello the character, indicated by his assertion that a "Negro- must not be allowed to murder a white woman, so atrocious he thought the act to be that he shot the actor. Negroes, in the social context of that soldier (1822), were not regarded highly in the class hierarchy, many being slaves in the Western/European world and thus lacking in social status.

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