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com2_FINAL2 - Elaine Chow Christina Schiesari COM 002 18...

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Elaine Chow Christina Schiesari COM 002 18 March 2011 Final – Prompt 1 Power and control propels the actions behind each character in Othello . First, there is power over the mind . As a black man in a white world, Othello already bears insecurities due to the social inequalities of racial differences . Although a great soldier, the color of his skin cannot be ignored . With regards to his relationship with Desdemona, his father-in-law already accuses him of witchcraft and is convinced that his pure Venetian daughter was enchanted into marriage (1 .2.81). Iago’s comparison of Othello to a “Barbary horse” (1.1.110) indicates sentiments of barbarism and savage animalism . These insecurities of identity and race are not imagined, and therefore are engrained in Othello’s mentality; Iago influences his victim, Othello, by latching onto these fears and feeding him assumptions of Desdemona’s infidelity . Iago’s carefully planned villainy successfully poisons Othello’s mind with even more fears, all seeming to be caused by his dark skin . He blatantly wonders out loud to Othello why Desdemona would marry him, given “her own clime, complexion, and degree” (3 .3.70), further distancing their class and racial standing . With these worries permeating Othello’s thoughts, Iago had effectively gained control over his mind . In addition to power over the mind, Othello demonstrates the extent of power over women . In those times, if a woman was married, she belonged to her husband and if unmarried,
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she belonged to her father . Throughout all statuses, a woman must be controlled by a dominant male . However, once a wife betrays her husband through adultery, his power over her is destroyed, causing him the most embarrassing of emasculations . To be a cuckold was of the utmost humiliation; the fact that this shame is caused by a woman furthers the embarrassment . Therefore, control over a woman was extremely crucial, and Iago’s instillment of suspicion
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