"If Othello didn't begin as a play about race, history has made it one.
The Venetian society that Othello is set in is representative of the writers context. .
The attitudes and values that Shakespeare reveals through the text are those same attitudes and values of Elizabethan society in England in the sixteenth-century. .
Although Othello is set in Venice and Cyprus, the attitudes and values shared in the text are probably reflective of the attitudes and values of Shakespeare's own society. It is difficult to assess the attitudes and values of people in sixteenth-century Britain to the relatively few blacks living amongst them. We are given an insight into those attitudes and values through the representation of race and gender in the text of Othello.These attitudes and values are indicative of what a culture believes in and supports. .
By the time Othello was written the English were becoming more and more aware of the existence of other races in the world besides themselves.
There had been a lot of travelling and blacks were beginning to be used in Europe for the slave trade. During the time the play was written, the Queen of England had banned all blacks from entering the city. She spoke of them as "Negars and Moors which are crept into the realm, of which kind of people there are already here too many". It seems that Shakespeare is almost mocking the Queen by characterising Othello as a black man who has a high ranking position in the Army and who marries a white aristocratic women, against her fathers will.
Ruth Cowlig suggests that the presentation of Othello as the hero must have been startling for Elizabethan audiences. This may have been the case, but through the representation of Othello we are able to see that some members of society such as the Duke, looked over his colour to assign him his position whereas, others such as Iago, look on his colour as a way to mock him.
Hostility is shown to Othello by characters such as Iago and Roderigo.