On the Outside Looking In

The Direct Effect that Othello’s Life as an Outsider and Slave has on his Protagonist Downfall as a Leader

Kaylee Reardon D Period

Previous experiences directly influence the way in which one makes decisions following a change in environment.

Critical Race Theory

Because Othello was a slave— due to his ethnic background, his decisions are influenced by the time in his life when he was treated as a piece of property as well as the time he spent escaping from that restraint.

Social Naivety

Previous Experiences

Contributors to Othello’s Downfall

Human Nature

An Outsider

P: After living a life of slavery, Othello lacks the necessary social experience

PEPI 1: An Outsider

needed to be able to connect with others in the community and be able to develop relationships with them. since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith till now some nine moons wasted, they have used their dearest action in the tented field… and therefore little shall I grace my cause in speaking for myself (I. iii. 81-88).

E: “ Rude am I in my speech, and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace, for P: “At the heart of Alinsky's method is the idea that the organizer plays a role

different from that of the organization member, who belongs to a specific community and has loyalties of religion, race or ethnicity, neighborhood, friendship, and family. Alinsky writes in Reveille for Radicals (1946), his first book on organizing, that the maxim of the organizer is ‘In order to be part of all, you must be part of none” (Kurtz 1). in, I disagree with Kurtz’s opinion that the ‘organizer’ must play a different role that those they are serving in society. Othello cannot relate to those he is making decisions for and his clear lack of social interaction skills and “streetsmarts” contribute to his downfall and overall conspiracy concerning Desdemona’s fidelity. Othello’s story to Brabantio about how he lived in a cave at one point in his travels displays this social alienation and symbolizes his inability to figure out the people in his community.

I: While Othello’s position as an outsider to the upper-class society he is placed


PEPI 2: Human Nature

Othello struggles when dealing with relationships and who to trust. His overall distrust and feelings of resentment towards Desdemona come from his naïve sense of trust and inability to perceive the truth as well as others’ personalities. This inability to trust others may also be looked at through a critical feminine lens in which men are more likely to trust another man than his own wife. E: “Presently. Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin, for to deny each article with oath cannot remove nor choke the strong conception that I do groan withal. Thou art to die” (V. ii. 52-56).


“The female tends to be defined by negative reference to the male as the human norm, hence as a kind of non-man or abject ‘Other.’ She is seen as lacking the identifying male organ, male power, and the male character traits that are presumed to have achieved the most important inventions and works of civilization” (Siegel 1). Othello’s complete and utter oblivion to Iago’s scheme reflects his ignorance towards the people of Venice as well. He does not know the meaning of building relationships with people and has a distraught sense of trust—a direct reflection of life as a slave and nomad. By trusting Iago over Desdemona and even plotting to get rid of Desdemona, Othello is acting upon his impulse to believe every word of Iago, despite his clear intentions.


PEPI 3: Social Alienation and Naivety
Although Othello has made his place as a solider and man of war, socially, he lacks communicative skills needed to effectively rule in Venice. insolent foe and sold to slavery…wherein of anters vast and deserts idle, it was my hint to speak” (I.iii.133-138).

E: “Where in I spoke of most disastrous chances…of being taken by the P: “Leo’s description of the Moors, in addition, emphasize many of the
attributes that critics have noted in Othello: simplicity, credulity, pride, proneness to extreme jealousy and anger, and courage in war” (Berry 317).

I: After living as a nomad for many years Othello is suddenly thrown into a
world entirely different than the one he is used to. Social interaction is one area the Othello is new to. He is easily manipulated by many of his peers finds it difficult to behave as expected of him due to his class status. His inability to communicate leads to his ultimate demise as his child-like behavior turns him into a corrupt individual.

PEPI 4: Previous Experiences
P: Othello’s sense of ownership ship over Desdemona is a direct result of his
time spent as a slave—one owned by a master. Now a man in a high position of authority, Othello feels that he now has ownership over others, specifically Desdemona. Because he was a slave, Othello feels insecure about his role in society now and uses the handkerchief as a means to comfort his diffidence. E: “ That handkerchief did an Egyptian to my mother give…but if she lost it or made a gift of it, my father’s eye should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt after new fancies” (III.iv.55-63). P: “Practical responsibility is limited to our actions, to what we can do in the word, now and in the future…We are responsible for what goes on in our minds, for what we make it our business to find out and know, for how we reflect on our knowledge and for how we think about others. We are responsible for what we choose to say and listen to, for what we read and write” (Zack 141). I: Because Othello treats Desdemona as a piece of property, he cannot connect to her and therefore does not truly love her. This inability to develop a relationship of love rather than lust is a result of the fact that he married her without knowing much about her as well as the fact that he lived for many years as a slave. Those years are most likely not ones that he is proud of or wants to go back to. By keeping his authority over Desdemona, he is covering his insecurities about power and position in society.

Contributors to Othello’s downfall…

Does not know who to trust (Desdemona, Iago, and Cassio)

Lacks social experiences in communication (living in cave and traveling)

Does not connect to others in society

Desdemona feels he can own her…live a slave. The handkerchief symbolizes this sense of ownership

If Othello’s decision-making is affected by his slavery and nomad lifestyle: Can we blame Othello for the destruction of his reputation, death of Desdemona, and overall vindication of high-society citizens in Venice? • For the most part, the answer is no. He knows no better than to believe the worst possible scenario. His lack of trust for Desdemona comes from the deceptive nature of life as a slave—in which the master manipulated his/her way into prosperity at the expense of the slaves. • Although he has escape from slavery, he is still influence by it. • This symbolizes ones inability to start over with a new slate without having reminders of the past, whether good or bad. The past influences the present and future. Othello’s “love” for Desdemona: • He mistakes lust for love for Othello’s distrust of Desdemona’s fidelity is in part due to his lack of knowledge about her. • Since he has known Iago longer than Desdemona his trust is in him more than his wife, whom of which he does not know much about.

We Cry – The Script
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-5Ou1uIFVM “There comes a time when every bird has to fly At some point every rose has to die This song talks about how It’s hard to let your children go people often fall victim Leave home to their own situations. Where they go? They often fall short of Who knows their ambitions and feel Getting drunk as though they have no Getting stoned one to relate to. All alone Teach a man to fish It also depicts a loss of You’ll feed him never lie innocence and ones You show your kids the truth inability to break free Hope they never lie” from their situation they’ve been put in.

Berry, Edward. "Othello's Alienation." Studies in English Literature 30.2 (1990). JSTOR. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/450520>. Kurtz, Geoffrey. "Obama and the Organization Tradition." Logos Journal 8.2 (2008). Logos Journal. Web. <http://www.logosjournal.com/?q=node/76>. Siegel, Kristi. "Extentialism." Introduction to Modern Literary Theory. Mount Mary College. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. Zack, Naomi. "Reparations and the Rectification of Race." The Journal of Ethics 7.1 (2003). JSTOR. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115752>.