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Othello Reflects The Context And Values Of Its Time

Texts and their appropriations reflect the context and values of their times. Within Shakespeare’s Othello and Geoffrey Sax’s appropriation of Othello, the evolution of the attitudes held by Elizabethan audiences and those held by contemporary audiences can be seen through the context of the female coupled with the context of racism. The role of the female has developed from being submissive and “obedient” in the Elizabethan era to being independent and liberated within the contemporary setting. The racism of the first text is overtly xenophobic and natural, whilst the “moor” is unnatural whereas the updated context portrays Othello’s race as natural and racism as unnatural. Therefore these examples show how Shakespeare’s Othello, and it’s appropriation, Geoffrey sax’s Othello, reflect the context and values of their times.

Within Shakespeare’s Othello there is an analysis into the context of the female. Brabantio’s rhyming couplet “Look to her, Moor, If thou hast eyes to see/ She has deceived her father, and may thee,” demonstrates his domineering and patronising attitude, as the Elizabethan era was a patriarchal society and the role of the female was to be ‘obedient’ to their father or husband. Brabantio also endeavours into placing a seed of doubt in Othello’s mind as a result of his jealousy. Consequentially Brabantio objectifies Desdemona when he states, “Where has thou stow’d my daughter?” exemplifying how he deems her as a possession, which can be stolen like any other. Othello prolongs this objectification through asserting that he “won his daughter” portraying Desdemona as a prize to be won, and a possession to be owned and argued over by husband and father. Desdemona is depicted early on in the play as the “angel” within the angel/whore dichotomy, as she is “an obedient lady,” whilst being juxtaposed with Emilia who believes it “proper to obey him, but not now”, and thus Iago depicts her as a ‘villainous whore.” This is because disobeying the patriarchy is considered an iniquitous quality, as shaped by the patriarchal Venetian society that they live in.

Through a reading of the modern context of the female within Geoffrey Sax’s appropriation of Othello there is an analysis into how the context and values of the Elizabethan era have changed into those of the 21st century. Immediately there is an update in context and values with the absence of the father figure. This absence can be seen as a metaphor which Sax used to show the update in context, in that women’s liberation and independence has evolved so that society deems women as a equal to men and thus by extension the patriarchy personified within Brabantio is non existent. Othello’s questions why they “don’t talk about the past and who they have been with.” Dessie replies “ I am a blank sheet waiting for you to write your name on me.” The image of a sheet is a symbol for her purity and innocence, showing her chastity and faithfulness to Othello and thus depicting her as the...

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