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Black and White in Shakespeare's Othello

            In Shakespeare's "Othello," a central theme focuses on the contrast between the colors black and white, literally and metaphorically. Both colors (shades) associates itself with a character and their specific personality traits. Black is generally considered more sinister and dirty whereas white represents innocence and purity. Shakespeare isn't afraid to hold back and exploit the complexity of the terms black and white within Othello. Racial overtones are explicitly made throughout the novel. The complex and confusing values of black and white are used to reinforce the clash between horrible tribal-like behavior and angelic lawfulness. .
             The proverbial black sheep, the black and burning pit of hell, and black devils serve to designate black as morally foul. There is this assumption that the dark color goes hand in hand with grime and filth and the darkening of one's compassion. Shakespeare further stresses the evil and corruptive nature that is associated with black by writing that "Even now, now, very now an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe" (Othello 1.1.89-90). This evokes the stereotype that black men have this hyper-sexuality that tends to be animal-like along with brute force they use against their victims. The offensive comment is said to manipulate Brabantio's fear of miscegenation because anything interracial is considered to be taboo and a curse. Essentially, black men are conjured up to be devils and it does not help when they are linked to the ominous black bird of evil omen: "As doth the raven o'er the infected house / Boding to all!" (4.1.21-22). The color black is filled with a negative charge that hints at racist notions. The infected house mentioned is an intentional demoralization of the society that black men inhabit solely because they live in it. This form of negativity is disguised as self-deprecation by Othello, who gradually becomes enveloped in darkness, and diminishes the bright light he was once surrounded by.

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