Advanced English - Othello

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Texts are usually a reflection of the time period and the values held during that time period. When compared, William Shakespeare’s play Othello written in the 16th century England and Tim Blake Nelsons film O produced in 20th century America, accentuates the reflection, when analysing the contexts, purpose, form, audience via characters and themes arises the context which are historical, social and cultural as well as the values held during the time periods.

In Othello and O the distinct historical contexts of 16th century England and 20th century America is accentuated when the form, audience and purpose are analysed. The form, audience and purpose of Othello and O reflect the two distinct society’s value for entertainment, morality and communication. William Shakespeare’s Othello is in the form of a play. This can be identified through the use of stage directions e.g. “He strikes her:”and through the number of soliloquies and asides e.g. “That Cassio loves her, I do well believe’t” spoken by Iago, who is revealing his inner most thoughts to the audience. The Elizabethan period was poised to be the golden age of English literature and plays were a popular and accessible form of entertainment which reflected the great works and was valued. Shakespeare’s audience was a mixed bunch ranging from aristocrats to peasants. The play was targeted at all types of audiences and this is identified by the use of verse and prose. The use of verse in the format of iambic pentameter e.g. “goodnight, goodnight, god such me uses send. Not to pick bad from bad but be bad mend” appealed to the upper class society as it was rich in literature while the use of prose, which was mainly exhibited as the language of comic characters and characters of lower positioning e.g. “then put up your pipes in your bad, for ill away! Go vanish, into air away!” said by the clown, appealed to the lower class of society as it was more simplistic. These forms of Old English language were very specific to the period of time when Shakespeare wrote which reflected Othello’s distinct historical context. It is also revealed that as a society, what were valued were the varied forms of language as an effective way of communication. The purpose of Othello is to entertain; this is supported by the use of pun, creating a humorous environment for the audience in the clown’s dialogue “If there is any music that cannot be heard, to’t again”. Othello also has the purpose of delivering didactic messages. Through the motif of “The green eyed monster” the audience is being warned against the dangers of jealousy. Shakespeare’s attempt at pleasing all members of his audience resulted in a great range to be found in his play including bawdy humour and the examination and close focus of the human psyche which accentuated the society’s value for entertainment and morality. Comparatively Tim Blake Nelsons O is in the form of a film. The use of cinematography e.g. Camera shots, and camera angles” supports the medium to be a film as well as the use of diegetic and non diegetic sounds which efficiently convey the themes and values to the target audience. The modern society of 20th century America was more appealed to the medium of film which was both popular and accessible as well efficient in delivering messages accentuating the societies value for communication through artistry and visual effects as opposed to members of the Elizabethan society who valued the use of language as a form of communication and format for conveying themes. The film O was targeted at a teenage/ adolescent audience, this is identified through the use of modern colloquial language e.g. “bro” and “tripping” as well as the use of expletives e.g. “He twisted my head, he f****** it up”. The form of the language used were specific to the audience of teenagers, as opposed to the target audience of Othello who ranged from aristocrats to peasants, who were able to access the film more effectively...
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