Keck Undergraduate Humanities Research Fellows


Emma HeflinFollow

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 12-7-2020

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

Othello presents unique challenges to modern literary critics because of its ethically problematic attitudes. I explore the ethical paradox Othello presents to audiences by analyzing what attitudes the play attempts to inspire in readers and theatergoers. On one hand, sympathy for Desdemona relies on unethical assumptions about black masculinity; on the other, sympathy for Othello endorses misogyny. This paradox leads to a broader question: How do we appraise a work's aesthetic value in the light of serious ethical shortcomings? A philosophical framework helps to answer this question as it relates specifically to Othello.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.