March 1, 2021

Othello: Interracial Marriage & Othello’s Blackness

Kaufmann, Miranda. “‘Making the Beast with Two Backs’: Interracial Relationships in Early Modern England.” Literature Compass, vol. 12, no. 1, 2015, pp. 22-37. ProQuest,, doi:

The topic that I chose initially was Othello’s “blackness” and how it is portrayed in literature and plays. While I was searching I discovered a new topic that is also connected to Othello’s blackness. This topic is interracial marriage in Othello. I found this article in the ProQuest database. The terms I searched were; Othello AND Desdemona AND Interracial marriage. In a general search using the terms previously mentioned I found an article by Miranda Kaufmann “‘Making the Beast with Two Backs’: Interracial Relationships in Early Modern England.” This article focuses on interracial marriage in Othello and Renaissance literature as a whole. Kaufmann also touches on how Othello’s blackness was masked in order to eliminate the notion of interracial marriage from the play. This article could enhance research from an ethnographic approach and a close reading approach. Kaufmann’s article enhances an ethnographic approach because it examines interracial marriage and black characters in multiple works by Shakespeare and it also covers Renaissance literature overall. It could also enhance a close reading approach because it looks closely at Iago’s descriptions of Othello and his union with Desdemona.

I found two secondary sources in ProQuest and JSTOR. The first source was cited in Kauffman’s article. The second source I found was through searching JSTOR. Hunter’s article argues that Shakespeare intended for Othello to be a black man and that it is an important part of the play. Adler’s article closely examines the rhetoric that is used to describe black and white in Othello. She argues that negative rhetoric is used to describe black and white is the complete opposite. Both of these sources elaborate on why the character Othello is black which helps make it clearer that Othello and Desdemona were in an interracial marriage. Adler’s article creates a better understanding of the unjustified negativity portrayed in the play towards blackness and Othello by contrasting Othello’s character to the rhetoric used in the play to describe him and blackness.

Hunter, G K. “Othello and Colour Prejudice.” Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 53, doi:info:doi/.

Adler, Doris. “The Rhetoric of Black and White in Othello.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 25, no. 2, 1974, pp. 248–257. JSTOR, JSTOR,

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