Othello– Shakespeare and Sax’s Movie Adaptation
Texts reflect their contexts and this is evident in both William Shakespeare’s Othello and Geoffrey Sax’s movie Othello. This reflection is developed through the 2 ideas of bigotry and the inequality in between genders. The context of a text plays a vital role as it is the way in which the authors communicate their message and this is done effectively as both composers are conveying a crucial message about racism and gender inequality. Racism is a theme that is prominently obvious throughout Shakespeare’s Othello.
Through this theme, there are several perceptions of a person’s race which are displayed to develop the text’s context. Throughout the Elizabethan age, those who were coloured were deemed being inferior in contrast to those of an Anglo-Saxon background. Iago represents this view upon race in as he, in addition to other characters, judges Othello based upon his appearance. In the opening scene, Iago alerts Brabantio, “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe”. Through making use of animal images, Iago parallels Othello to a racial subtext of black versus white and hence degrades Othello’s status, placing himself on a higher social platform.
Using racial slur highlights the extension of Elizabethan ideas that black men are assumed to have an animal-like sexual behaviour. Likewise in the play, Brabantio states “… in spite of nature … to fall for what she fear ‘d to search! It is a judgment primary ‘d and most imperfect … versus all rules of nature” (1. 3. 6). This quote refers to how Brabantio considers his daughter’s love with the Moor to be unnatural as Desdemona would obviously never fall in love with a black man. Brabantio utilizes repetition to firmly insist that Othello needs to have “enchanted” his daughter with black magic instead of their relationship including real love.
Likewise to the play, the film adjustment of Othello incorporates the concern of race showing the context of the film. Recently, racism has reduced considerably with coloured individuals gaining more rights such as the ability to vote. With this being said, it is still obvious that bigotry still happens as demonstrated by the film. Like Iago, Jago also uses racial slurs such as ‘Nigger’ and ‘big black bastard’, when congratulating Othello’s promotion as a commissioner. It is clear to the audience that Jago’s intent are far from what is seen by Othello as the electronic camera utilizes a close up shot to stress Jago’s conniving facial expressions.
The tone obvious in Jago’s compliments displays dramatic irony as the audience understands Jago’s motives and strategies. Another example of bigotry in the movie is during the restroom scene in the film. The commissioner converses with Jago and states “If I might discover any with brains as big as their penis I ‘d be a pleased man”, in referral to coloured officers. The quote describes the assumed obsessive sexual behaviour lived in by black men. Gender inequality is apparent in the play, reflecting the context of the Elizabethan era.
Throughout the Elizabethan era, the discrimination of gender remained in favour of guys as they had the total control in all relationships and dominated the workforce. Single females were considered as ‘property’ of their dads and married women were considered ‘residential or commercial property’ of their partners. This is evident throughout the play as there is an absence of trust in between the relationships between a guy and a lady. Iago enhances this suspect by stating that, ‘She [Desdemona] did trick her daddy, marrying you …’, describing the fact that females can not be relied on which they are most likely to be unfaithful.
This understanding of women has actually resulted in the inequality between the genders as males decline to provide any sort of power to female in fear of being tricked. The tone exhibited by Iago stresses the unfavorable connotation and degrading of ladies as perceived by Iago. Another example of gender inequality is Iago’s derogatory understanding of women. He mentions, ‘They slouch around your home except that they are active in their bed’. The quote suggests that females resemble prostitutes. The derogative contrast of all women to woman of the streets supports the discriminations based upon sex.
Likewise, the movie adjustment likewise checks out the ideas of discrimination based on gender. Recently society has actually enhanced on equalising the position of males and females, however, it is still evident that inequalities do exist. Throughout the film, no female is placed in an occupational level that is high valued and respected. All the members of the police force and justice system are male. This supports the idea that even through advancements; society is negligent in giving ladies too much power. The conventional view of guys controling the relationship can also be extracted from the film as Othello is the clear dominator versus Dessie.
Dessie remarks to Othello questioning, “Isn’t it always like that? Females noting to guys without talking.” The quote expresses the degree of the understanding of ladies as their position in society is irrelevant compared to guys. To emit this message, using high and low angle shots highlights the power within the relationship. When concentrating on Othello, the video camera is placed at a low angle to show his supremacy whereas when concentrating on Dessie, the camera is placed at a high angle to show her inability and vulnerability. Both texts of Othello show their contexts despite the distinction in release dates.