The meaning of blackness in Othello




I always wanted to play Beatrice


I just want to play House.


Equally important is the question of religion at a time when Englishmen had been merrily slaughtering themselves over the destiny of their immortal souls and writers would have had political masters whether they wanted them or not. To get a flavour of Elizabethan England think Stasi, the paranoia of HUAC and better dead than red.
The linked article poses the question could a Moor become a Christian? The answer is different depending on whether Shakespeare was a Catholic or a Protestant with their differing views on predestination. The protestant revolution was motivated in part by a desire to return to the position of the Church Fathers, which Mediaeval Catholic Christendom had rejected. For the Catholic Church salvation through Christ was available to all through good works, etc. the Protestant/Lutheran revolution took a stronger view of predestination and that one’s individual fate had already been decided by God ab initio.

It was with the end of the Plantagenets and the coming of the Tudors that Mediaeval Christendom finally began to collapse and the modern nation state first began to develop in England.

Shakespeare was a Catholic with Protestant masters in highly volatile times. He had two very different audiences to address and to appease where necessary.

Savage would have had connotations of prelapsarian not uncivilised so Othello could not have been a savage. The existence of people who had not suffered from the fall created a different theological problem for inclusivity. I don’t think blackness as a sign from God of sinfulness was considered significant then.

Also Lepanto, Cervantes and pirates.


On a somewhat related note, I woke up the other day wondering if Darth Vader was black? So much of his personality comes through James Earl Jones’ voice that he reads as black, no matter what kind of pasty while flesh we see briefly in episodes 5 and 6.

He’s clearly not black the way Lando Calrisian is black, and his chaotic evil alignment seems unrelated to the ethnicity of his voice actor. But his voice carries the weigjt of a true believer. Darth Vader is nothing if not passionate.

(Oh, and don’t try to confuse.the issue with Hayden Christiensen and Jake Lloyd being white, their performances have nothing to do with what we saw in 1977.)


I saw a queered production of Othello at Washington’s Shakespeare Theater a number of years ago. Sir Patrick Stewart played Othello white and the remainder of the cast was African American including former Washington meteorologist and Klingon, Ron Canada as Iago. No dialog was changed - including the bit about a black ram tupping your white ewe. I really enjoyed it!


See my post below - I did see this production. :grinning:


I believe this theory has already been addressed:


Offered without comment.


I thought that was going be the video of Gilbert Gottfried reading 50 Shades of Grey.


Jesus! Ever hear of spoiler alerts?

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