Othello and the Gaze of the Other
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This article reads Othello through the discourse of cultural materialism. To do so, the writer’s discourse therefore, becomes that of the hysterical discourse going against the dominant discourse of the work. Cultural materialism borrows the ideas of many critics in order to study canonical works against the grain. Thus, this article uses cultural materialism in order to read Othello against the grain. To read it so requires resisting or hystericising the dominant discourse and worldview and shifting sympathy. The gaze of Othello signifies how psychologically the white society looked at him and how the white society considered him. Othello is Moorish and hence an Arab in Europe, manifestly calling to mind all the multifaceted confrontations and conflicts of Self/Other in a framework of power struggle. He is a non-western protagonist whose wife, a European equals Othello’s tribe. Othello is an odd-one-out protagonist whose wife, Desdemona, is referred to as a pearl. This pearl calls for the fact that Othello be black in order to be inferior to her. The white Desdemona is an angel while the black Othello is a monster creating a binary opposition of angel and evil. The play depicts Othello as a loser and Desdemona as a winner making the audience identify with the winner. It makes Othello a type, the type of people who are horrible, treacherous, illogical, bestial and demonic. Desdemona also becomes a type, the type of people who are self, angelic and master. Practically Shakespeare lets Othello confess to his irrationality and inferiority.
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