The first decisive opposing reactions by a modern and Elizabethan audience to a Shakespeare play such as Othello, is the status of women in this period. Othello among other plays of its era, introduce the idea of women as possessions.
"O heaven! How got she out?"
Here Brabantio is talking about his daughter Desdemona as if she is locked up in his prison. Later examples of this also include Desdemona herself admitting in sorts to being a possession:
"How to respect you; you are the lord of all my duty...
But here's my husband,
And so much duty as my mother showed to you"
Of course to an Elizabethan audience, this would not have come as a surprise, because the roles of the women in Shakespeare's plays were prominent for the time and culture in which their society lived.
In sharp contrast to this, it is difficult as a modern audience to appreciate the ideas that women were not only possessions, but that they also knew and accepted this fact. The simple reason for this disbelief being that women in our modern society have equal rights to men.
At the beginning of the play we find Desdemona is treated much as all women would have been in this period, but in Act 1, Scene 3, an unusually occurrence happens and Desdemona is given the chance to speak for herself:
"Let me go with him"
Not only does she speak of her love for Othello, but also how she wants to go with him whilst he fights the Turks.
When Desdemona makes this plea the reactions of an Elizabethan and modern audience would...
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...at this kind of cruelty towards blacks was an accepted expect of Elizabethan society
What's more, a modern audience would most likely not be superstitious and rather than taking the witchcraft accusation seriously would call Brobantio `a silly old man', simply because advances in technology have proven that witchcraft does not exist and didn't all those centuries ago.
The entertainment for both an Elizabethan and modern audience comes from different aspects of thinking, but doesn't make it any more or any less enjoyable for either. Infact the events in Othello have such an impact on both audiences; we tend to miss other interesting aspects of the play such as the beautiful iambic pentameter used in Othello's speeches.
It is Shakespeare's ability to appeal so strongly to his audience, that still makes his plays original and adaptable up to the modern day.
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