Othello, By William Shakespeare Essay

1260 words - 5 pages

In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is portrayed as a cruel puppet master, using his high order critical analysis and manipulative skills to exact on those he believe wronged him; as he weaves a web of deceit to ensnare the play’s protagonist (and namesake of the play) Othello. Various movie adaptations have portrayed the characters in different ways, often resulting in a fusion of the context of the age, artistic license and Shakespeare’s character. One such fusion is Stuart Burge’s 1965 filmic portrayal of Iago in his Othello. Act II, scene I is a prime example of how Iago can be adapted for film.
Other characters within the play assist in Iago’s plot by revealing their weaknesses. Cassio, who speaks of Desdemona as the “Divine Desdemona,” a name accompanied by a change in lighting to symbolise divinity, greets her with a kiss on the hand, excusing his courteous upbringing while doing so; having just spoken of her overtly positively with “Most fortunately. He hath achieved a maid/That paragons description and wild fame,/One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,/And in th' essential vesture of creation/Does tire the ingener.” Cassio also kisses his hands when he references Desdemona, showing his obvious attraction towards her. This gives Iago both an insight to his character and a tool to exploit with his schemes. Other characters often mistake his cruel, truthful words to be in jest and light-hearted, with his rant about Emilia and women in general being shrugged off by the characters in the scene, or met with false complaints. Iago’s constant walking around during the banter indicates nonchalance towards what he’s saying, which is reaffirmed by his complete lack of eye contact. However, the Shakespearian play has the possibility of being read with a different tone, and interpreted as grave and serious, however Burge has chosen to represent it in this way to allow for a more devious version of Iago.
Roderigo stands as a contrast to the deceptive Iago, who is both easily fooled and manipulated by Iago. After circling Roderigo in a manner likened to that of a predatory animal, he positions himself beside Roderigo’s shoulder, which is representative of his insidious nature and ill motive. Iago and Roderigo’s relative positioning is also relevant and symbolic to their respective natures; upon expressing disbelief he pushes past Iago, who then lures Roderigo back into a submissive, seated position, demonstrating his control with playful strikes on the shoulder. This, coupled with the initial good natured touch of the chin, contrast with Iago’s true feelings towards Iago; as the audience and readers know of Iago’s superiority complex, made evident by the soliloquy at the conclusion of act I which describes Roderigo as Iago’s personal coin purse. Roderigo concludes his role in the scene with a rise to Iago’s eye level, symbolic of Iago’s deception in that Roderigo truly believes that he is not only a dear friend, but on an equal level to Iago....

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