Throughout the centuries, few of Shakespeare?s works have evoked as much controversy and heated debate as Othello and The Merchant of Venice. Investigating issues of ethnic and cultural identity, discrimination, and tolerance, the plays are paramount examples of polysemy and multifariousness, denying one-sided and simplifying interpretations. The ambiguous complexity of the plays is closely connected to their protagonists, Othello and Shylock, who, contrary to conventional Elizabethan representations of the ?Other?, are not portrayed as emblematic embodiments of utmost evil. Quite the opposite, the two paradigmatic ?Others? in Shakespeare?s canon are depicted as highly ambivalent, complex and lifelike characters, equally fascinating and appalling people for more than four hundred years. The thesis aims to examine the representation of ?Otherness? in Othello and The Merchant of Venice, trying to demonstrate and analyse the ambiguities and contradictions in Shakespeare?s works rather than attempting to solve them. Opening with a brief introduction to the theoretical framework underlying the concept of ?Otherness?, greater emphasis is subsequently given to an examination of notions of ?Otherness? in Elizabethan thinking. Additionally, the living conditions of Africans and Jews in early modern England as well as conventional depictions of them on the Elizabethan stage are examined. The main part of the thesis is dedicated to a closer analysis of Othello and Shylock, assessing several aspects interrelated to their alienation and the representation thereof. Trying to link and elaborate on the respective findings, emphasis is again put on the characters? depth, ambiguities and contradictions that cannot ultimately be resolved. Doubtlessly, Othello and The Merchant of Venice trigger universal questions in relation to mankind and are thus breathtakingly relevant even today.