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Published: 26-11-2019

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“Othello” and “O”: Comparing Themes of Jealousy and Power

Context and textual type construct ideas that remain perpetual all through all societies, however the values behind these tips differ in nature. Shakespeare’s play, the tragedy Othello, and its contemporary counterpart, Tim Blake Nelson’s film “O”, expresses themes of power and jealousy that remain constant in each texts, but the justification and motive of these acts vary in a modern context.

Racism is utilised a form of energy in Othello. Consisting of status and respect, Iago’s need for energy is disclosed when he says “I adhere to him to serve my turn upon”, implying that he is only obeying his commander and ‘friend’ Othello in his self-serving ambition for authority. Iago’s anger is directed at Othello and Cassio, who was promoted to lieutenant alternatively of him. Believing Cassio to be inexperienced, Iago plots against him and Othello. Iago’s hatred of Othello also compelled by racism, highlighted by means of the repetition of “the Moor” and other racial slurs like “sooty bosom” and “thick-lips” in reference to Othello, the animal motif “Barbary horse”, “neigh to you”,”jennets for germans” and “coursers for cousins”, claiming that Desdemona and Othello’s young children will be barbaric and beastly. Utilizing the notion of fear of the unknown (Othello’s exoticness), Iago gains help in his plot from Roderigo and Brabantio when he declares Othello employed “chains of magic” and “foul charms”.to win his daughter, playing into the stereotype that black individuals are practisers of magic. Even so this is juxtaposed in the following scene when the Duke calls Othello “valiant Moor”, illuminating the importance of skill, rather than prestige. This is also an ironic oxymoron as, for the duration of the Elizabethan era, Moors have been viewed as untrustworthy, whereas in reality, Iago is the deceptive 1, establishing the manage he has. Iago employs xenophobia as a power structure to manipulate other individuals.

In the film “O”, energy is linked to physical aptitude, domination and driven by jealousy due to its modern, higher college context. Hugo’s – Iago’s modern counterpart – ambition for energy, whilst nonetheless directed at Odin and Mike (the adaptations of Othello and Cassio), is provoked by his father, Duke, the coach of their basketball group, who he is emotionally distant from, revealed in his coldness towards his son when he award of MVP to Odin, claiming that “I really like him like my own son”. Hugo also desires the power Odin displays in their basketball game through the aerial shot focusing on him, positioned in the centre of the crowd. Replacing the asides and soliloquies voiceovers are employed to divulge Hugo’s vindictive objective – to assert his sovereignty over other folks. The juxtaposition of the purity of the doves, representing the innocent people he manipulates and the use of non-diegetic music from the Othello opera, which sounds pure and calming shockingly contrasts with the hawk motif, a predatory beast symbolising Hugo, and the rap music, firmly reinforces Hugo’s corruption and deceptiveness. As the film progresses, the audience views Hugo stealing the school’s hawk, which is blinded, foreshadowing Odin’s obviousness, enabling him to be exploited by his “friend”.



Iago weaponised Othello’s jealousy against him, inciting Othello’s revenge becoming the catalyst of Othello’s downfall. Falsely pretending to be his friend, he confronts Othello about his suspicion of Desdemona and warns Othello against “the green-eyed monster which doth mock”, a metaphor for the monstrous deeds Othello will enact. Green is universally a symbolism of jealousy and envy. Iago juxtaposes and fulfills the foreshadowing of Brabantio’s line “She has deceived her father and could thee”, only heightening his unease. In truth, he elicits a jealousy-induced, epileptic fit out of Othello by claiming Cassio boasted about sex with Desdemona. At this point, envy is consuming Othello’s mind, denoted in the repetition of “lie/lie with her?/lie on her?”. Othello’s verse adjustments into prose as his dialogue becomes nonsensical. The handkerchief is a metaphor for Desdemona’s and Othello’s love in his thoughts, as it is red, symbolising the passion they when had for every single other, but in (supposedly) providing it to Cassio, it represents Desdemona’s infidelity. When Othello confronts Desdemona about the lost handkerchief, he claims it was constructed from magic, “there’s magic in the net of it”, is also a referral to the belief that he had charmed her by means of magic, a racial stereotype perpetuated by Brabantio’s xenophobic beliefs. Iago utilised Othello’s really like and passion for Desdemona against him, provoking his descent into disgrace and ruin.

Nevertheless, in “O”, Hugo’s envy of Odin is a lot more complex, he desires to actually be Odin. Hugo is usually positioned on the outdoors of the group when they win the match, the mid shot depicting his tense body language coupled with the close up of Hugo’s hurt face when his father informs the college that he loves Odin like his son illustrates the jealousy and disappointment Hugo feels, compelling the audience to really feel sympathetic towards him. For the duration of this scene, the hawk also circles above the match. If the hawk if metaphorical for Hugo, then this reaffirms his distinct separation from the rest of his team. Hugo’s longing to be like Odin is established further when he goes to get steroids from a drug dealer in an effort to improve his physical skill. The non-diegetic music playing is rap, a stereotypical “black” genre and the lyrics of the song “ride with us” each expose his hunger to be like Odin in order to be recognised by his father, but ultimately fails, established when Hugo is known as to have dinner with his father by way of the positioning of the two. Duke is hidden behind a wall, conjugated with the extended shot that positions the audience further away from the action, like Hugo is, this indicates the distance amongst them. Framed by the doorway, the dialogue among them is professional, denoting Duke’s treatment of Hugo as a student, rather than his son. They only speak about Odin, which is what inspired Hugo’s jealousy and deception all along

Othello and it is modern day adaption “O” each convey similar themes and concepts, like energy and jealousy, that are universal throughout history, but the values that motivate men and women to act on these concepts modify in a variety of contexts.
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