Uncomfortable Empathy: Audience Afterthoughts on Othello


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Essay #: 060884
Total text length is 4,554 characters (approximately 3.1 pages).

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The beginning:
Uncomfortable Empathy: Audience Afterthoughts on Othello
Othello, written in the early years of the 17th century, is traditionally known as featuring one of the first blacks protagonists in western literature. As such, it is difficult to discuss the play in any way without tackling its racial component. However, the play is much more than one about race. As it concludes, in addition to tackling uncomfortable notions of race, it seems Shakespeare is asking the audience to meditate on the perils of misplaced trust.
For anyone watching early performances of Othello, seeing a man performing a character who looked significantly darker than themselves must have been an exotic experience. Othello, however, did not have to be racially conspicuous....
The end:
.....ld be understandable to the audience members, leaving them with a empathetic feeling that “this could happen to me too.”
For early 17th-century London theatergoers, the performance and the ideas presented in Othello must have been uncomfortable. The racially charged atmosphere of the play coupled with the tragic experiences would have shocked audiences. Shakespeare must have known that his previous successes would have made this play not only acceptable but accessible, leaving the audience members to place themselves inside the performance and to reconcile their own feelings on issues of race and misplaced trust.
Works Cited
Othello. 1997. University of Victoria. 7 June 2010 <http://web.uvic.ca/~mbest1/ISShakespeare/Oth/Oth.TOC.html>.