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Theme Of Jealousy In Othello

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The Mediterranean Sea of Jealousy

Harriet Williams delves into the waters of jealousy and deceit in Oliver Parker’s Othello.Adapting Shakespeare for the screen can be problematic, as Oliver Parker discovered with his 1995 directing debut, Othello. Portraying the actions of a noble Moor who brutally sacrifices his beloved wife over a strategically placed handkerchief, or Justifying Iago, whose evil manoeuvrings create an irrevocable wreckage out of the lives of at least six people, all because he was passed over for a promotion, were some of the challenges he faced. I sat down with Oliver Parker, himself, to find out how calamitous jealousy can be when unimpeded.

Mr Parker, why did you chose to make Iago the central character in the film
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This multi-facetted characterisation of Iago is developed throughout the opening sequence of the film. His use of a caring and friendly tone when addressing Roderigo is sharply juxtaposed to Iago’s soliloquy directed to the audience, highlighting his ability to manipulate those around him and the ease at which he does so. Thus, establishing a false reputation which is invaluable to his scheme of deceit.

Another key aspect to the portrayal of Iago’s malignant nature is through motifs to illustrate how he sows the seeds in the garden of Cyprus.

Speaking of your use of symbolism, you’ve come under fire recently for your overt use of visual aids. Why did you feel it was a necessary device to convey the interconnection between jealousy and revenge? As Shakespeare’s original play was about 3560 lines, which is far too long to put in a film, some of the key ideas had to be portrayed visually. Luckily the big screen allows for a wide range of visual effects that can’t be achieved on a stage. Like I mentioned before, motifs were crucial in representing Iago’s quest for revenge, which stems from his incessant jealousy.

The chess pieces are a recurring motif to demonstrate Iago’s plans of deceit and destruction. The first time you see them is in a close-up shot of a chessboard which widens to reveal Iago controlling the pieces. Here the audience is able to see Iago is playing a game and those around him
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