Geoffrey Sax’s modern-day retelling of William Shakespeare’s Othello has the capability to speak to responders of various times and places as regardless of the shift in context, for both check out the universal principles of misogynist mindsets and bigotry. Shakespeare’s play reflects standard Elizabethan contexts and worths in its expedition of such ideas whilst illustrating a catastrophe prompted by jealousy and mistrust; nevertheless, Geoffrey Sax’s 2001 representation of Othello, set in contemporary London, concentrates on concerns of racism and the post-feminist role of ladies in this modern-day society.
In analyzing these various interpretations, the differing portrayals that mirror the composer’s context strengthen the efficiency of both texts. Despite the recontextualisation of the treatment and status of women, both Shakespeare’s Othello and Sax’s Othello depict the oppression of females in society and the subordinate position of females in comparison to men. In Shakespeare’s patriarchal context, ladies were viewed as guaranteed subordinates, to the degree that they were items owned by their partners and fathers.
In Othello, this sense of subordination is illustrated in the opening scene where Brabantio describes that he has actually been ‘robb(ed)’ when he realised that his child Desdemona has actually run off with Othello, exclaiming that she had been ‘stol ‘n from [him],’ connoting the status of Desdemona simply as residential or commercial property of her daddy. Iago sees better halves as ‘nothing, but to please … fantasies’, dealt with as ‘house maids’ simply to ‘pleasure’ their hubbies, the misogynistic language further stressing the subservient status of females within the play.
Negative terms are intended towards socially and sexually transgressive females throughout the play, with such females being referred to as ‘impudent strumpet(s)’and ‘shrewd whore(s) of Venice.’ To some degree, Sax’s movie asserts the emancipation of ladies, reflecting his post-feminist social context. Dessie is able to make her own choices without her dad, and the film does not condemn Lulu’s enjoyment of sex.
Nevertheless, there are elements of the movie that imply this equality is just an illusion. Though more subtle in Sax’s Othello, males view females as home to some degree, for while women may appear more independent, there are still suggested limits to female freedom. Lulu and Dessie are generally illustrated in domestic settings. The director juxtaposes Dessie and Lulu as ethically dichotomous, with Dessie being referred to as ‘an angel’ and Lulu as symbolic of female indiscrimination.
The function of women is similar to Shakespeare’s time with the recurrent relationship in between the two sexes as ‘males talking and women listening,’ Despite feminist needs for balance of gender and social functions in Sax’s context, the supremacy of males as ‘master(s) of the situation’ is strengthened in the film when Dessie declares that males were ‘expected to be strong’ and Othello was ‘supposed to take care of’ her. Therefore, by taking a look at these different analyses and the varying representations that mirror each author’s context, the independence of ladies in the 21st century is checked out.
Despite the shift in context from Elizabethan England to the 21st century, racism is still a profound style in both variations of Othello. Shakespeare’s Othello is set in a conventional, hierarchical society. In spite of the basic approval of racism as a truism by an Elizabethan audience, Shakespeare challenges these contextual concepts of race through his noble characterisation of the black Othello as ‘a basic’ and the hero, and the white Iago as the villain. His being called ‘much more fair than black’ exonerates him as being metaphorically white in character, additional reinforces his noble character.
This change in standard concepts is observed by the critic G. K. Hunter, who states, “Othello is the black man with the white soul, and Iago is the white man with the black soul”. In the play, while Othello is depicted as a guy of confidence, nobility and rank, he is nevertheless socially inferior because of his race, which can be seen through Iago’s consistent allusions to him as ‘The Moor’– an outsider– and his use of animal imagery such as ‘an old black ram’ and ‘the devil’. The lack of usage of Othello’s genuine name discreetly advises the audience of the impossibility of Othello to take in into the white society in spite of his high rank.
Othello’s anxieties about his race ultimately internalises a false dichotomy that dehumanises him. The transformation of the honorable protagonist is revealed as he begins losing his ability to speak appropriately, decreasing into incoherence, turning people into animals and invoking a world of ‘goats, monkeys, toads, crocodiles and dangerous snakes’, starting to lose vestiges of civilisation, taking on the dark emotional colouring of Iago’s character as he echoes the antagonist’s words and intonation.
Sax’s movie, released soon after the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Brixton riots, can be seen as a critique of the institutionalized racism in contemporary London. In the film, Othello is depicted as a black policeman, who is known for his integrity, moral concepts and skills on the task, comparable to Othello’s brave characterization in the play. Nevertheless, Jago describes him to as ‘a big black bastard’, proving that in spite of the shift in context, bigotry is still an underlying part of modern society.
Additionally, Jago says that John Othello is ‘like a wild animal,’ paralleling Iago’s use of animal images in Shakespeare’s play. Towards the end of the film, he starts to believe that he is an outsider, thinking that his marriage to Dessie was unnatural, and lastly admits that “perhaps [he] repented … embarrassed of the part of [him] that wished to resemble [Dessie] … wanted to be white. Who the hell wishes to be the nigger” However, in Sax’s film, justice does not dominate- Othello murders Desdemona and devotes suicide, Jago ends up being the commissioner and the truth on Billy Coates is never revealed.
The film ends with an officer stating, “It was a great experiment wasn’t it? “, revealing that society has once again failed to learn from its failures Shakespeare’s Othello has the ability to speak with responders of different times and places, hence making it an efficient text. Through different representations and analyses in various time spaces and contexts, individuals may check out universal principles of gender and racism through brand-new perspectives, as evinced in the parallelism of Othello the play and its recontextualisation in Sax’s movie Othello.