The Way Shakespeare Creates Characters

In this essay I aim to discuss the way Shakespeare creates characters who reinforce social stereotypes and others who abandon more traditional roles and how it helps his play by looking at the . In Shakespeare’s time there were different standings in class, race and in gender, men were above women and whites were above blacks a character that reinforces this stereotype of the time is the character of Brabantio, he is the father of Desdemona who is the object of Othello’s heart.

Othello is black and Desdemona is white, these two being together let alone married would’ve been a great shock to audiences in Shakespeare’s time, so Shakespeare needed a character to represent the way most people think and this was Brabantio. An example of Branbantio as being stereotypical is when he says where hast thou stowed my daughter? Damned as though art, though hast enchanted her.

This shows him as being stereotypical in a varied number of ways the first being he believes that Othello has used magic to make his daughter love him which shows the belief of the dark arts at this time but also the only reasons he believes Othello has used dark arts to enslave his daughter is because he is black, black people at this time were very much looked down upon and were thought of evil and users of the dark arts so it is understandable to the audience of Shakespeare that Brabantio is so annoyed and shocked although it would be different now.

Another way he shows thast he is stereotypical is by the way he thinks he knows that his daughter could not love a black person and should only love the people he sees good enough for her this taking away her rights and feelings are being disregarded but at this time it was normal for the women to be objectified and men control them. Brabantio also shows the stereotypical view of a patriarch in this society and he believes that Othello is a direct threat to the patriarchal society he believes that the pagans will be come statesman which in his eyes would create social chaos an example of this belief is shown when he states for instance Bond slaves and pagans shall our statesmen be.

This statement would shock most people of a high standing of this time, the play would have been performed in England and even the thought of this happening in England is preposterous and would decrease the amount of people going to this, so Shakespeare deliberately sets the play in Venice where there are more blacks and it is somewhere fair away from home so it is believable to the audience but other than the fact that it tells you this play is set in Venice, nearly all of the characters can be directly linked to the English lifestyle at the time. On numerous occasions Brabantio makes numerous comments showing his stereotypical views on his daughter and shows that he thinks he owns her by objectifying her, a quote that supports this idea is “Ay to me, she is abused, stolen from me and corrupted” when he says this you can see he sees his daughter as his own and only thinks she should do what he thinks she should.

A character that is not stereotypical and abandons their own typical role in this play is Desdemona she does this by disobeying her father and society by marrying a black man who is seen as a peasant in her fathers eyes, the time this play was shown daughters and women alike were controlled by men, so the disobedience of Desdemona would surprise the audience and is also the reason that Brabantio thinks that Othello has poisoned her with magic but as Othello denies using magic to win her over by saying that it was his stories that she fell in love with, Desdemona also states that she should be loyal like her mother to her husband, which uses her own fathers patriarchal views against him but this is also uncommon at this time as she is choosing her lover instead of her father causing much anger as she is not dropping in line like a girl should in this time.

Furthermore Desdemona is not a typical woman of the time that should be quiet love there husband and obey their father, Desdemona has different ideas of what she wants and Othello believes that she fell in love with him because of his stories and that she wants to become a great warrior and all he represented, a quote that shows this is when Othello tells us “She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished that heaven made her such a man” this suggests that Desdemona does not love Othello for his heart but for what he represents to her, a black man who should be looked down and despised upon becoming a great warrior and even gaining the respect of her father, she had never met anyone of this type before and she became hooked but the fact that she told Othello ” If I had that loved her. I should teach him how to tell my story” shows that she was flirting and really does love him causing distress to father and others that have tried to court her before.

Othello is another character that defies stereotypes and standing at this time as he has overcome many a trial in his lifetime, he is a black man living a white orientated world and to get to his standing and stature as one of the heads of the Venetian army’s as the Venetian empire at this time had much power behind it with strongholds as Venice and Verona his shows how much of a struggle it was to get there and makes it more surprising, from being a slave sold from Africa to a warrior and being respected for his talent and not prejudged due to his skin colour. In his speech he tells us that he has been through many a hardships of war and slavery telling us he has had a hard life and the use of language tells that he is going to go through more hardships but with Desdemona we can see this when he says “but that I love the gentle Desdemona, I would not my unhoused free condition” he is saying her that he would give up his freedom from slavery to stay with her, this is an idealised romantic notion which is not practical which in turn shows us that it will end in tragedy.

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