Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis campus only



First Advisor

Kathryn Vomero Santos

Second Advisor

Shaj Mathew

Third Advisor

Michael Fischer


There is a strange phenomenon within the legal world where high-profile legal proceedings are often placed in comparison to Shakespeare’s works. This phenomenon, though present within many legal events, is exemplified in the analogy made between the O.J. Simpson trial and Othello. Be they sparked by attorneys, the media, or civilian onlookers, the comparisons made between O.J. and Othello’s experiences are plentiful. Many individuals who bridge connections between the two, however, are quick to deny anything racial about them. Rather, they instead suggest that the experiences of the character and former athlete are indicative of universal themes such as jealousy. Though both the play and the trial involve a variety of factors, to suggest that race is not one of them is startling and prompts many questions. What does “universality” truly mean, and who benefits from it? How is Shakespeare’s status as a cultural figurehead harmful when he is introduced into the courtroom? Who does it marginalize? What does denying the importance of race in Othello and the Simpson trial do, and what does it suggest? Through unpacking the famous connection, this article aims to both critique this comparison and to make sense of it so that the implications of bringing Shakespeare into the legal realm can be understood.