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A Comparison of Play Interpretations from Shakespeare’s “othello”, Act Four.

Essay by James Smith  •  December 1, 2018  •  Essay  •  903 Words (4 Pages)  •  46 Views

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James Smith

Othello Essay

A Comparison of play interpretations from Shakespeare’s “Othello”, Act Four.

Act four in Othello, by Shakespeare serves as the prelude for the stories final climax and confrontation of the main characters. In order to properly build the climax without excessive foreshadowing, context is vital for the dialogue of characters so as to create an emotional attachment and/or connection between the speaker and the audience. The script does this well, providing sufficient information and enough vague expression to allow the readers’ imagination to assume the rest from subtle hints within the dialogue. However, taking this story and the characters involved from the page to the stage results in a loss of the individuals creativity and leaves the interpretation at large to the mercy of the play actors performance.

Therefore, multiple versions of the same play but with different actors allows for more possibilities of interpretation and contextual evidence being conveyed to the audience. For an example, the play performed by the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), uses a more realistic approach when determining how the characters should behave with one another. Desdemona is described as a purehearted princess who views the world with innocence, leading the reader to speculate that the relationship between her and Emilia is especially sweet because despite their difference in status, Desdemona still views her as an equal and respects her opinions as such. The play however, depicts a more typical master-servant relationship. Emilia, being the favored and most prestigious among the servants (given her husband Iago has political standing), is afforded the right to question Desdemona on her affairs without receiving scorn. In doing so, the tone of the conversation shifts from the idle chatter of two friends to one of playful contempt as Desdemona begins to speak aloud only after an unidentified servant is queued to leave. Throughout their talk, Emilia states the obvious in attempts to have Desdemona confess her feelings on the subject while Desdemona frequently pauses to instruct Emilia on her duty. Ultimately, this one sided conversation leads Desdemona to come across as privileged and insincere when she begins to boldly vent her frustrations.

In comparison, the performance of Kate Falk casted as Desdemona was much more heart-felt. The body language of the actors tells the audience that the nature of the conversation is less formal than it is casual while the tone of Emilia’s voice has a sense of familiarity. It becomes apparent then, that their relationship is completely unaffected by social standing, conveys a more earnest friendship, and allows the description of Desdemona’s character to fit accurately. As a result, Emilia’s character is allowed to develop in more ways as well. This time Emilia is the one who comes across as the authoritative figure in the talks between her and Desdemona. There are no frivolous stage props so that the audiences attention is not diverted away from the intensity of the conversations nature. Desdemona is viewed as a inexperienced, heartbroken, newlywed seeking advice from her older, more insightful friend who in-fact, is the cause of her grief. Thereafter foreboding ensues as the greater theme of ‘Purity and innocence versus Love and corruption’ builds alarming suspense, drawing the audience in with the curiosity of what happens next.

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