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The Manipulations of Jealousy

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“When you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him,” wrote George R.R. Martin in his novel, A Storm of Swords. Martin puts into words the depths of which manipulation can reach by knowing what a person most desires. The theme of manipulation and betrayal is prominent in literature today, just as it was during Shakespeare’s era. The play Othello, by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy based on the corrosive power of jealousy spanning all aspects of life. The antagonist, Iago, feeling unjustly deprived of role of lieutenant, targets the weaknesses of those close to him to further his own agenda. For the most part, Oliver Parker’s 1995 film adaptation of Othello remains true to the original work in terms of characters; dialogue and the majority of key plot points. At the same time, the portrayal of characters, such as Iago, has been altered to enhance the cinematic experience. Parker’s interpretation of the play not only appeals to a larger audience but it conveys a new depth of Iago’s emotions and portrays a heightened sense of conflict caused by Iago’s manipulations
Iago's frequent and direct soliloquies where he is staring directly into the camera exaggerate his Machiavellian intentions to destroy Othello by giving deeper meaning to his actions. By not sharing his true feelings with absolutely anyone in the film, he is able to be the soul manipulator, painting Iago as even more manipulative than the play. In the text, Roderigo says “Thou toldst me thou didst hold him in they hate” to which Iago replies “Despise me if I do not.” (I.1.7-9) However, this dialogue is left out of Parker’s adaptation. Instead, Iago simply says, “I hate the Moor,” when he is alone, referring to Othello. By only admitting this in priva...

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...ision for Iago to accept his impending fate nurtures the idea that he has no emotions or feeling such as pain, adding to his dehumanization.
When reading Shakespeare’s Othello, the reader must interpret scenes and interactions on his or her own, allowing underlying meanings to easily be missed. With the use of cinematic tools, music, and visual aids, ranging from the ominous chess pieces to even sinister glances toward the camera, Parker adds a depth to Shakespeare’s work. Parker’s film adaptation allows the viewer to see Iago’s malignant intentions and level of manipulation from very early on, allowing Iago to appear as even more conniving as well as dehumanized by his unwillingness to express any true emotion. This unwillingness to let his emotions get the better of him ultimately allows the audience to sympathize with the internal struggle one may experience.
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