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Oppression and Racism

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The plays ‘A raisin in the sun’ and ‘Othello’ were written by Lorraine Hansberry and William Shakespeare respectively.  A raisin in sun has various themes such as sexuality, American dream, civil rights, culture, poverty, tolerance and prejudice, racism and oppression. The later are the primary themes of the play. It was the first play written by a black woman and first appeared in 1959 and it about the life of Youngers, an African American family living in Chicago. Othello deemed to be written in 1603 revolves around four main characters, Othello, Desdemona wife to a Moorish general, Cassio and the general. The themes of the play are honesty, love, misrepresentation, self knowledge, magic, racism, oppression, pride, appearance and reality, revenge, betrayal and jealousy. For instance, in case of honesty lago is termed “honest” racism is depicted when Othello is termed “the black with thick lips”

The first act in Othello was important for character development and subsequently the themes. The writer tells us the motives behind logo’s hatred of Moor and how strong Desdemona loves Othello. Appearance and reality; this is clearly seen in the character of logo for he is called ‘honest’ by all he characters, in the contrary, logo is deceitful, manipulative and treacherous. On the other hands, Othello sees his wife as deceitful, adulterous although she is not guilty. Misrepresentation also takes stage as Iago present an image of himself that is not the truth, “Touch me not so near. / I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth / than it should do offense to Michael Cassio; Yet I persuade myself to speak the truth / shall nothing wrong him (Shakespeare, 52).”

Revenge was developed by our understanding of logo’s motives towards Othello and Cassio. He plans to ensure that Othello pays for marrying Desdemona and Cassio by being promoted instead of him. He succeeded to an extent but at the end of it no one wins as Desdemona and Emilia are dead and Iago is arrested and probably executed.  

Magic is deemed to be due to Othello’s heritage, he is accused of using it to seduce Desdemona because he is black, but the magic is in his words. When his handkerchief could not be found, this also brought the element of magic. He believes and trusts the charm and symbolism of the handkerchief.

Honesty and trust is developed by ironic use of ‘honest’ to describe characters. Due to this almost all characters are in a crisis of determining who and who not to trust. Most trust the wrong person, Iago which lead to downfall of various characters. For instance Othello said “...my ancient; a man he is of honesty and trust. To this conveyance I assign my wife (Shakespeare, 37)” in reference to Iago.

Racism is the most important theme in this work influencing how Othello was regarded. Race also determines Othello’s own perception. Desdemona’s father refers to him as a black with thick lips. Having in mind that he is not like the others, the whites, he works very hard and takes cautious of his reputation hence regarded as white by those who surround him.

Betrayal/treachery is developed through motives of Iago to revenge. "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father and may thee (Act I, Scene III)." Warns Brabantino which is also used by Iago to remind Othello that his wife’s father said she might betray him. Iago also betrays the trust bestowed to him by Othello.

The main theme of the play A Raisin in the Sun is racism and race, its setup is in family environment of an African-American of Younger’s family which was living in Chicago in the 1950’s. The play has the theme of prejudice and stereotyping, the family members were being affected by the stereotype of being African-American who were mainly lowly paid are less regarded in the community. The family members Ruth and Walter were employed by the whites as servant as domestic servant and chauffer respectively (Lorraine). Because they were servants they were entitled to live in a poorly maintained apartment because their jobs were poorly paid.

There is also the theme of dreams and how the dreams of different characters differed. The family members were about to receive a check of $10,000 which was payment of the deceased Mr. Younger’s life insurance policy. Each of the family members had there own dream on how they would spend the money to improve their lives like the whites. These stereotypes seemed to be bothering all of them as they strain on how they would be able are like the whites. The ideas which they had were buying a bigger house for the family, paying medical tuition to achieve the dream of being a medical practitioner while others had the idea of investing the money in sales of liquor to liberate the family from its financial burden (Hansberry, 84).

Due to diversified views and expectations the play brings in the theme of conflicting expectations. Each of the family members Ruth, Walter and Lena conflicted on how they would spend the Insurance Check. It also portrays the theme of strength of family, the family setup of African-American shows how they would support each other as a family to ensure that they promote the family welfare and financial status.

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