Updating the Setting of Shakespeare's Othello

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Along the crowded streets of Philadelphia the cars rush by and people are always in a hurry, but the poverty of the people that live in the neighborhoods can never be hidden. The name, the City of Brotherly Love, is almost ironic as crime and hate fill the streets of the city. There is a division between the people that can not be hidden, but only exaggerated by people’s interactions. This is the setting in which the Shakespearian play “Othello” will be interpreted. This modernization of this classic tragedy will be more appealing to the youth of today, who will be able to relate more to the characters and the setting of the play. The changes to the plot and the language of the play are minimal, but the changes to the setting and characters are drastic. The same issues, race, jealousy, and manipulation, still remain, but there is a twist to how they are portrayed. The setting of the play is dramatically changed from Venice and Cyprus to inner city Philadelphia. This one change alters the scenes and characters roles in society, but allows Shakespeare’s original plot to be carried out. It has been said that, “High school proved a neat setting for contemporary versions of Shakespeare’s comedies: Strong headed adolescent embarking on first love come with the fitting you’d struggle to find more sharply defined social strata or better opportunity for self-conscious humiliation” (Walters, 2002). By setting the film in a high school, characters are at a very vulnerable point in their lives as they are discovering new things about themselves, are forming relationships, and have insecurities about themselves. Often during these vulnerable years, teens use bullying and cruelty to get others to conform or get ... ... middle of paper ... .... This modern setting and the contemporary characters help today’s audiences understand the complexities of human relationships and the destructive qualities of jealousy that Shakespeare wrote about in the original play. This film, just as the original play, is very much a tragedy where treachery and jealousy lead to the untimely deaths of Othello and Desdemona. Works Cited Bell, Millicent. “Shakespeare’s Moor”. Raritan. Vol. 21(2002): 1-14. Bent, Geoffrey. “Three green eyes monsters: acting as applied criticism in Shakespeare’s Othello”. The Antioch Review. Summer 1998: 358-73. Fierman, Daniel. “The Story of O”. Entertanment Weekly. 10 Aug 2001: 20-3. Walls, Lisa. Bullying and Sexual Harrassment in Schools. Committee for Children. http://www.cfchildren.org/article_walls1.shtml. Walters, Ben. “O”. Sight and Sound. February 2002: 56-7.

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