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Evaluation of BBC version of Othello

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In the BBC version of Othello Desdemona is portrayed as the strong, ahead of her time woman that we are introduced to in the play at the beginning. This interpretation seems to fit with the plot of the play as the events which have unfolded all stem from Desdemona agreeing to marry Othello, an action which may have been against the norm in that period of time. So as the audience we have seen Desdemona so far as a strong, own minded character and not one that worries about her position in society as a women. Although traditionally she would have done as her father told and therefore married who her father chose, she goes against this idea in marrying Othello, so we see right from the beginning hat she is not concerned with her place as a woman, she will be out spoken if he wishes. As a high class woman she puts on a brave face in public, so not to allow anyone to think that she and Othello were unhappy. Her facial expressions in public are often a smile and very gentle looking, where as when she is with Emilia it is almost as if she shows no emotion, there is a very distinct lack of feeling between the two characters. ...read more.


Miller presents Emilia as fairly subservient who is ambivalent and convoluted in nature, significantly like her dogmatic husband. Emilia, through her belligerent nature towards Othello and her admittance of prospective infidelity- an issue the irascible Iago approached early in the play- " he's done my service"-, provides the perfect contrast to Desdemona in this scene. Preceding the catastrophe of the tragedy genre within which, inevitability due to Shakespeare's repeated use of foreboding and prefiguring language- "if I do die", Desdemona will lose her life, Shakespeare can unquestionably augment the pathos of the scene by using the immoralities of Emilia as a contrast to Desdemona. In this sense Emilia provides a pragmatic and fundamental role in allowing the audience to ascertain the true horror that is being depicted before them- essentially it is a surreptitious but erudite skill displayed by the playwright. Michael Bryson presents a differing interpretation however where he considers the palpable similarities between Desdemona and Emilia. The cuckold, a frequent point of discourse between the pair, shows how both have been branded with the condemnation " whore" but Bryson then unsettles this dynamic of similarity by identifying how Emilia resides as a figure of isolation in the play. ...read more.


This subtle composition of the scene firmly places Emilia as the rational thinking adult which is there to support Desdemona through the days. In this part of the scene Emilia also has her speech about husbands, in this speech she sounds genuinely angry and the tone of voice she is using suggests that she is it almost trying to empower women everywhere. The speech itself is about women's equality, "Let husbands know Their wives have sense like them: they see, and smell", so it is only fitting that it is said in a strong, forceful manner- it is Emilia showing she is the powerful woman she is making a speech about. This strong portrayal of Emilia is a complete contrast to the opera of Othello where Emilia takes little to no part at all in the scene and it is all about Desdemona. At least in the Nunn production, Emilia gets a fair chance of letting her character shine through and it is clear that without her there as the dominating force then Desdemona would not have coped well at all with the notion that perhaps she is going to die. I thought which crosses both characters minds as the genuine heartfelt goodbye embrace near the end of the scene shows us. ...read more.

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