Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Language, Innovation, Culture and Education 2016

Race, Ideology and Theatre: A Classroom Reading of Othello

Sandip Mondal

University of Kalyani, India


As a state-sponsored artist Shakespeare’s position was critical and ambivalent in the ideology of the white masculine self. Written much after Titus and Andronicus, which conforming to the convention of the Elizabethan stage presented the Moor, Aaron as a villain, Othello represents the black Moor in equivocal terms. A reading of Othello in the classroom corroborates this ambivalent authoriality, since a play, meant primarily for the performance on stage, is reborn with the active participation of the students and teacher. The symbiotic relationship amongst the audience, actors and the ideology of theatre is recreated in terms of the interaction between the teacher and students present in the classroom. Such a recreation of the theatrical space, through the ‘reading’ of Othello inside the classroom might pose challenge to the dominant critical reception of the text. The body of students present in the classroom, in keeping with the theatrical space recreated within it, might also recreate the moment when for the white Elizabethan audience Othello is relegated to a criminal for ‘stealing’ and subsequently murdering a girl of their community vis-à-vis race. This argument becomes even more tenable once we take into consideration the soliloquies of Iago. His communication with the audience through soliloquies is a strategy to assure them about the punishment of Othello for his act of transgression. Thus this would attempt to show how the ‘meaning’ of a play is derived from the teaching-learning process within the classroom.


Theatre audience

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