Throughout all time, it is clear that texts reflect the values of the society that produces them. These texts reflect the issues, struggles and circumstances facing the society of which the authors they are living in. This is seen through Andrew Davies 2001 film version of Othello due to his adaption of values, which are relevant in today’s society, which appeal to a contemporary audience such as racism, jealousy and love. These appeal to the audience due to because they require the audience to question their own values and opinions of their own time. These values and themes are enhanced through respective mediums through language and imagery in the play and film techniques in the film adaptation.
Firstly, the theme of race is very much reflective of the issues of the time. Possibly the most prominent example of race as a theme is seen through Othello’s promotion. In both the play and the film, the fact Othello has been promoted is a big surprise and an outrage to most but the reasons for the surprise and outrage is contrary to the way the society of today would view it. In the play, although Othello is a black man from Africa, the color of his skin is overlooked due to his well-known success and standing on the battlefield. Although people accept his promotion, Othello is still the subject of racism throughout the play in examples such as “The thick lips” Roderigo and “The black ram has tupped your white ewe” Iago. Although in today’s society, this would be deemed racist, in the time of Othello racist remarks such as this were said very openly and not subject to ridicule. On the other hand, when Othello is appointed as police commissioner not because he is the most deserving candidate but because of the fact he is black. This decision is made to make the police force seem more racially tolerable which is not the way these decisions should be made in this day and age where race shouldn’t be looked at in a positive or negative light. This decision makes the audience think about the world that they live in and how they view race. This is not the only instance of race being an influence in Andrew Davies adaptation, throughout the film there are racist remarks made by various characters. The most notable difference between the film and the play is that in the film the racist remarks are made in private such as when Ben Jago says “you clever big black bastard” to Othello and Vulgar When Ben Jago has a vulgar and Racist language fuelled rant, highlighted through the close up camera shots of his face emphasizing veins, movement of hair, along with the rapid editing with confused oblique angles which show the instability of his mind. It is clear in both the film and the play that the theme of race, yet in very different ways to reflect the values of the time whilst making the audience think about the world they live in.
Another theme that reflects the values of the respective societies is jealousy. Jealousy is present in both the play and the filmic adaption. In both representations, Othello’s downfall and ultimately his death of a result, yet the symbols for jealousy are adjusted to reflect the society of the time in both the play and the film. In the play the main symbol for Othello’s jealousy is the handkerchief given by Othello to Desdemona. This handkerchief symbolizes Desdemona’s fidelity and loyalty. Iago convinces his wife to steal it off Desdemona and Othello is led to believe that it has been to Cassio by Desdemona. This sparks a monstrous rage from Othello, as he believes that Desdemona has been loyal and he is extremely jealous of her supposed split loyalty. Although he his actions suggest otherwise, Othello pleads to Lodovico and Grantio to not speak of him as an easily jealous man but as a man blinded by misjudgment when he says “Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak Of one that loved not wisely but too well; Of one not easily jealous, but being