Uploaded by Louis Whyatt

Weekly Paragraph Othering

Compare and Contrast "Othello" & "Disgraced" to explore the way that the ‘metanarrative’
of the ‘the other’ has influenced the way Othello and Amir identities have been shaped.
Othering is a major theme in both “Othello” written by Shakespeare and “Disgraced” by
Ayad Akhtar. This idea is explored in both the opening scenes of the plays and establishes
the foundation for the protagonist’s downfall through the use of foreshadowing. Othello
was thought to be written in 1603 in the Elizabethan period. During this period Queen
Elizabeth exiled the Moor people from Africa and Spanish “Moriscos” from the boundary of
England in 1599 and 1601. In the opening scene when Roderigo and Iago use zoomorphism
and sexual imagery “an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe” to describe Othello to
Desdemona’s father Brabantio. Through doing this Shakespeare has informed his audience
of Othello’s race through dehumanizing him into a ram, therefore taking away his identity
shaping him as a beast. Shakespeare has positioned the audience so that they perceive
Othello to be othered. Through doing this he is able to create a false narrative for them to
follow before being introduced to the actual character. Othello juxtaposes Iago’s stories
through saying “my story being done” in his monologue with the judge and Brabantio.
Through doing this the audience is able to view Othello’s side of the story while Othello
gains agency through his eloquence creating empathy from the audience. By comparison
this idea can be seen in Disgraced through the character of Amir. Disgraced was written in
2012 by Ayad Akhtar, an American man with Pakistani heritage. The play is set in 2011 and
explores the idea of othering through contemporary Islamophobia within the United States
at the time. Through the ethnic characters in the play Akhtar can explore ethnic and
religious prejudice through discrimination. The rise of Islamophobia in the USA is rooted
from the 9/11 terrorist attacks which is mentioned throughout the play. This event caused
violent conflict between the borders of the two nations which still affects Indian-Pakistani
relations to this day. Like Othello, Amir is othered by the people around him which was seen
in the opening scene after Emily and Amir discuss the event they faced with a racist waiter.
Emily uses the metaphor “You mad him see that gap” to describe the waiters’ racist
assumptions. This was important as it showed how some people first view Amir for his race
before they even knew him. Emily also creates tension within this scene through choosing to
paint Amir “after seeing a painting of a slave” symbolically framing him to be seen as less
than because of his ethnic background, taking away his identity and reinforces the idea of
the ‘white saviour’. Through viewing the opening scenes of both “Othello” and “Disgraced”
we as the audience are able to see how ‘metanarrative’ of ‘the other’ has influenced their
protagonists identity through shaping their identity’s through the characters surrounding