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Reflective Entry: Othello and Orientalism Essay

The notion of being Oriental, in an academic perspective, is based on its distinction as compared to the Occident. It is generally defined in terms of their ontological and epistemological characteristics (p. 2). But establishing the difference between the two doesn’t fully deduce the Orient’s full meaning—it is but just a part. ‘…Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline…politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period’ (p. 3).

Othello’s world circles on the society and its ties on various key people. It may be derived from another literary piece from Italy, but that doesn’t mean that it is exclusively Occident (west, as for being Orient connotes something from the east). Shakespeare incorporated a number of characteristics that made the tragedy seem ‘orientalized’ like the character’s physique, religion, social setting, etc.

Though Othello is a Moor, the characterization itself was not clear—though racial discrimination is evident on text. Being a Moor doesn’t clearly give definition to one’s identity in the society ‘coz basing it on racial identity at that time, they are neither black nor white. And being such makes it harder for scholars to define Othello’s affinity because a Moor is so complex, that they carry various cultures—both black and white skinned people can also be considered a Moor.

Although Othello faced these forms of discrimination, from his social status to his personal engagements, he still was able to keep an Occident pride of himself until the last part where he was considered to act just like a slave because he killed everybody else out of frustration. Those kinds of actions shouldn’t be done by high-ranking people. ‘The Oriental…is therefore not for an exclusive academic matter. Yet it is an intellectual matter of some very obvious importance’. For one to be considered as an Oriental, one must be able to consider all factors in the equation and not just by focusing on a single aspect.


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