Post-Colonialism in Othello

Ethan Nguyen

Professor Davis

English 102

11 December 2020

Post-Colonialism in Othello

When analyzing literature, an author’s work can be interpreted more deeply than what is on the surface of the work itself. Critical lenses are viewed through the study of the style, storyline and even interactions between characters within the literary work. In the play Othello, written by William Shakespeare, readers can analyze Othello’s unwelcomed atmosphere through a postcolonial lens. According to Owl Purdue, the idea of post-colonialism “looks at the issues of power, economics, politics, religion, and culture and how these elements work in relation to colonial hegemony (Western colonizers controlling the colonized)”. Looking deeper into post-colonialism, this theory studies societies and cultures affected by colonialism. The relation mainly focuses on imperialism and colonization by Europe to the less developed countries, such as Africa or some parts of Asia for example. This post-colonial theory of imperialism itself derived from the mid-twentieth century through violent acts of anti-colonialism from colonized countries towards the end of the second world war.


The aspects of Othello that can be illuminated by post-colonialism are the use of discriminant language towards Othello, the general distrust displayed by the characters Barbanto, Iago and Roderigo, Othello’s insecurities of feeling inferior or the stigma of alienation shown during his time in Venice.

When applying the theory throughout the play, readers can analyze that the interactions between Othello and other characters can highlight a support of post-colonialism. One of the forms of interactions of characters can show a general distrust when Othello is mentioned in a conversation or when talking to Othello himself. In the beginning of of the play,

potential quotes

“Idea, cultures and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied” (Said)

Works Cited

“Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism”. ​Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism, Accessed 12 May 2020.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Simon &

Schuster, 2009.