"Othello" And "O" Comparative Essay

1128 words - 5 pages

We live in a world entangled with lies, jealousy, violence and tragedy. We are an envious society that never has enough, and we're willing to tear down others to get what we want, or to ruin their happiness. Two texts that portray these values of society include "Othello", a play written by William Shakespeare and "O", a film directed by Tim Blake Nelson. Today I will be contrasting these two texts and in more depth contrasting two parallel characters, Othello and Odin. The different language and medium of production of the two texts reflect the time in which they were written. Othello was composed in the Elizabethan era, displayed by the classy English literature written in the form of a play. It was aimed at all classes of society, from the monarchy right down to the peasantry. However, O was created in a time no different from today, shown by its modern language, themes and its medium of production, film. "O" is aimed at a much younger, simpler, Westernised audience portrayed by the swearing and rap music."Othello" is a powerful tragedy based on the themes of love, jealously, trust and betrayal and is quite simply the basis of "O", Nelson has borrowed the storyline, plot and even the characters from the great drama. However, he has appropriated Othello into a post-modern structure, superimposing it into a contemporary time and setting. Nelson presents his own themes and values to his audience without betraying Shakespeare's original tale of diaster and despair. New values Nelson gives "Othello" in "O" are violence, teenage relationships, drugs and Sport. "O" will perhaps introduce a new audience to William Shakespeare and some of his most intriguing and tragic characters.One of those characters is "Othello", a general of the Venetian armed forces, Othello is a noble, important man, and a well respected solider. He is said to be "great of heart," and "honourable and valiant." He is loved and looked up to by all. Similarly, O has everything going for him, he is the star Basketball player of his school team, he enjoys widespread popularity with all the students, has the love of a beautiful girl and a promising future as an elite athlete. While Othello and O are both very important in their own context, being dark skinned makes them cultural and racial outsiders. The play Othello seems unrealistic as a black man has managed to reach the rank of general in the 16th century Italian army. Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio treat him as inferior by making racist remarks, calling him "old black ram" and "barbary horse." In opposition to Othello, O is more realistic as Odin is African-American, like many great basketball players. Also, black people are generally more accepted in the 20th century, however, Odin is the only black person in the school and he has the same problem as Othello, he does not fit in. Hugo uses the metaphor of a hawk to describe Odin's place in the school "He soars above us, he can fly, although hawks are no good around normal birds,...

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