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“She has robbed me of my sword”: Exploring Shakespeare’s Portrayal of Interracial Relationships, Their Effect on Gender Roles, and the Evolution of Linguistic Descriptors in Antony and Cleopatra and Othello

Markyl Ryals
Markl Ryals
Faculty Advisor(s)

Within the massive field of Shakespearean studies, a new wave of revisionist interpretations and studies has exploded in visibility, encouraging intersectional analysis of the Bard’s works. When exploring Shakespeare’s landscape of race, two plays emerge intentionally centered on interracial relationships, Antony and Cleopatra and Othello. While there is a wealth of scholarship that individually combs over each play from a multitude of perspectives, there is a current lack of critical comparison of the two texts. Through rigorous comparative analysis, I demonstrate the transformations of male protagonists, similarities in use of racialized language such as color based terminology, and the unique function of ‘villain’ character as a personification of societal pressures applied to interracial couples. Even though these plays focus on different cultures and locations, the similarity in their conversations of race, class, and gender are undeniable. My research approach draws upon both early modern conceptions and presentations of race as well as contemporary critical racial and cultural studies.    



Markl Ryals (they/them) is a senior from Gainesville, Florida, majoring in History and Race and Ethnicity Studies with minors in English and Media Studies. They are the president of the Pierrettes and Open Up, Salem's on campus theatre troupe and LGBT+ organization, respectively. After graduation, they plan to move abroad and attend graduate school to study Theatre for Young Audiences, combining their experience as a childcare worker with their passion for directing. In their free time, Markl is an avid reader and is currently enjoying American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Cross Creek by Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.