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Different Reactions Of A Modern And Elizabethan Audience To Othello

825 words - 3 pages

In the Elizabethan era, many of the issues Shakespeare included in his plays were socially accepted by the audience. In contrast these issues are in large not accepted in today's modern society.

The first decisive opposing reactions by a modern and Elizabethan audience to a Shakespeare play such as Othello, is the status of women in this period. Othello among other plays of its era, introduce the idea of women as possessions.

"O heaven! How got she out?"

Here Brabantio is talking about his daughter Desdemona as if she is locked up in his prison. Later examples of this also include Desdemona herself admitting in sorts to being a possession:

"How to respect you; you are the lord of all my duty...

But here's my husband,

And so much duty as my mother showed to you"

Of course to an Elizabethan audience, this would not have come as a surprise, because the roles of the women in Shakespeare's plays were prominent for the time and culture in which their society lived.

In sharp contrast to this, it is difficult as a modern audience to appreciate the ideas that women were not only possessions, but that they also knew and accepted this fact. The simple reason for this disbelief being that women in our modern society have equal rights to men.

At the beginning of the play we find Desdemona is treated much as all women would have been in this period, but in Act 1, Scene 3, an unusually occurrence happens and Desdemona is given the chance to speak for herself:

"Let me go with him"

Not only does she speak of her love for Othello, but also how she wants to go with him whilst he fights the Turks.

When Desdemona makes this plea the reactions of an Elizabethan and modern audience would be alternated, and now the shock would predominantly be with Elizabethan audience. The reasons for this are because Desdemona speaks for herself rather than her husband making the decision for her, and furthermore that a woman being with her husband whilst he was in service was never heard of in this era.

Once more as a modern audience we find it hard to appreciate the impact a woman speaking up for herself in this situation may have had on an Elizabethan audience. This is because in our society women speak up fro themselves everyday and this is taken for granted.

The fact that Desdemona is given a voice is due to the controversial character of Othello. Because he says "let her speak", he is showing not only respect and trust...

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