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Othello Comparative Essay

1536 words - 6 pages


"A Text is the mirror for the concerns of a time and place"

A text is recognised as a product of its time. It resonates with the values and customs of the society to which it belongs. Shakespeare's Othello indubitably explores the context and values of 16th century Jacobean distinguishes an Elizabethan society, where the mistrust of differences in culture and the submissive role of women in a patriarchal society are explored.

Fear due to racial difference is evident throughout the course of Othello. Iago's constant referral to Othello through antonomasia "the moor" clearly represents the fearful attitudes of Jacobean culture where a man of African descent is looked down upon and seen as untrustworthy.
The colour Blackness is often associated with Othello; In Jacobean society the colour white represented purity and innocence whilst black represented evil. Thus the repetitive use of colour association between the characters visually reinforces their cultural differences and consequently the fearful views of Jacobean society at the time. Iago further demonstrates this through animal and colour imagery "you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse". By utilising animalistic references, the categorisation reduces Othello to an emetic wild Arab stallion and implies that Desdemona will be taken by forced rather than consent. Thus Othello's identity is reduced to a stereotype-that of a libidinous, black man. Animal imagery is also utilised by Iago in the line "an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe", where the black and white polarity once again illustrates the Jacobean's perceived differences and mistrust of persons of another culture.
The perception of white being superior to black is shown in Brabantio's metaphoric statement "…O treason of the blood!" insinuating that Desdemona's marriage to Othello is considered to be against her breeding as a white woman, where the "moors" blood contaminates her pure white blood.

In contrast to the original Shakespearean Play, discrimination due to race has evidently been a key issue and is explored further in Sax's film, Othello, superseded with contemporary themes.
Sax employs camera techniques that convey messages of racial unity and justice where love does not discriminate. The opening scene displays a close-up intimate bed scene between Jon (Othello) and Desi (Desdedemona), illustrating their passion, however it also emphasises the difference in skin tones where the contrasted colours symbolise the racism still prevalent.

Although the 21st century has improved from unjust racial conflict, white supremacy has been constant in human through history. A further notion of this is apparent in the character Jago, where Sax uses him as an elemental figure that is framed by Christ-like visuals often positioned with a white backdrop. That racism is a prominent theme, however, can be...

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