Portrayal of the Negro in Contemporary American Drama

Publication Year



race, drama, playwriting, American society and culture, stereotypes, character development


African American Studies | American Literature | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Playwriting | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Theatre and Performance Studies


"Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down ought in malice." --Othello, Act V, Scene II

The wrenching of Othello's words at his death scene into a context suitable for the study of the portrayal of the Negro in American drama might, at first glance, seem to be going far afield. Yet Othello is the best known Negroid figure in the theatre today. Some of his problems arose from the fact that he felt socially insecure as a Moor in Venetian society, the very type of problems facing modern Negroes. At his death Othello wanted to be remembered as the man he was, not as a greater figure of leadership than he could be discerningly considered, nor as a primitive wife-killer with nought but a bestial nature. In essence, Othello was speaking of his psychological, or personal qualities as himself, not the sociological qualities dependent upon the attitudes and opinions of others. This is the same plea that future American Negro dramatic characters make to the playwrights of today.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

English: Literature and Writing

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