The Perception of Moors in Europe, Featuring a Shakespearean Narrative

The Perception of Moors in Europe, Featuring a Shakespearean Narrative

Ania Loomba, in her book, Shakespeare, Race and Colonialism, expounds in great detail the vehement racism, which existed in England and was described in the play, Othello.

Loomba embarks on this journey of race, bringing light to the conversation of “Blackness,” what that means in England, its perceptions within theology, and ultimately sex, as well.

Loomba’s narrative begins with Othello, a Black Moor, who seemingly, amidst his wealth, is an outsider within his Venetian town. Furthermore, Loomba’s use of Othello generates a discussion of who Othello actually is and what his perceived vices may actually exist.

For in this discussion of Othello, Loomba highlights Othello’s religion of Islam, as being a social issue. Keeping in mind the Moor’s and Jews were expelled from Spain under Queen Isabella, in the year 1492, and Shakespeare’s Moor of Venice or Othello was performed in or around 1604.

Also, very interesting is Loomba’s linguistic use of the word fornicate, which she traced back the etymology revealing and has stated, “ the word fornicate”, the OED tells us, means lechery as well as a space that is arched, vaulted like an over or furnace’. The association between furnace and lechery in the figure of the bath attendant is established via his blackness; conversely, it reinforces with literal as well as sexual heat.(p.50)” In other words, from my opinion, the connection Loomba is making yet not clearly stating, are the racist and prejudice opinions during 16th century England.

In closing, Loomba provides her readers with a preponderance of the evidence, which leads reason beyond a reasonable doubt that in fact, that there were “Moors,” who were Black followed Islam and lived in Europe during the 16th century.

Yet, another example of the prejudice and vehement racism which existed during the 16th century of Europe, has been couched in Loomba language when she provides her readers with name “The merchant of Venice,” where Loomba states, “This hypothesis certainly reverberates with “The Merchant of Venice” where the threat posed by Moors both tawny and black, male and female, living in Venice and outside it) is both contrasted to and mirrored by the threat posed by the Jews who live within Venice.(P.148)”  What Loomba has indicated in this passage, has been the racist and prejudice perceptions of those Europeans, inside of Europe’s 16th century, who appear to be outsiders in their own land, due in part to their culture, religion, and/or, overall “Blackness.”

In closing, Loomba has provided a narrative of sex, race, and colonialism, which have been coupled and couched in the language of 16th century Europe. In my opinion, Loomba has been, nothing short of eloquent, while still examining the harsh realities, which encompasses the narrative of sex, race, and colonialism of the 16th century.

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