Explore the presentation of marriage within Othello. You must relate your discussion to relevant contextual factors and critical readings.

The marriage between Othello and Desdemona may act as a reflection of the societal values of both the Venetian society within the play as well as the Elizabethan audience at the time it was written. The concept of an interracial marriage was viewed as extremely scandalous as it was ‘nature, erring from itself’, suggesting that Othello and Desdemona’s marriage was unnatural and immoral. Women were expected to remain virgins till marriage, yet Desdemona challenges both her Father and social conventions by taking an active role within her marriage claiming ‘I did love the Moor’. Newman believed the act of marrying Othello was “heroic rather than demonic” as Desdemona is completely defying the social order by refusing the maintain her ‘obedience’ towards her Father and marry the man she truly ‘loves’. Shakespeare challenges the “demonic” view of the interracial marriage as writing in the renaissance perhaps inspired him to challenge social conventions which is evident within the play as Desdemona is a woman of power and Othello who should be a “noble savage”, isn’t as he is deemed 'more fair than black'.
In addition, Othello and Desdemona’s marriage acts as an opportunity for society to voice their racists and discriminative views. Othello is dehumanises to a mere ‘thing’ and Shakespeare continuously uses zoomorphism as characters degrade Othello to a ‘black ram’, implying the narrow view society holds, depicting Othello as a primitive, black, violent male. This is further shown as Brabantio is told ‘the black ram is tupping your white yew’, the metaphor hinting at the sexual relations between Othello and his daughter Desdemona. The contrast between ‘black’ and ‘white’ conveys the corruption of the innocent, vulnerable female, constructing Othello as a destructive force. Therefore, their marriage can be argued to act as a true reflection of the sheer struggle of an interracial marriage within the time period.

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