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Othello and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Comparative Essay

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The transformation between Othello, a 16th century Shakespearean tragedy and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, a 1960’s Romantic Comedy, can be compared by addressing themes that are present in each text. The theme of race can be used to compare the different attitudes of each context, surrounding the significant black characters of Othello in Othello and John in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and there interaction with white females that belong to an upper middle class.

The theme of interracial marriages can be used to compare the different values and attitudes of each context, towards a black & white marriage.

This applies to both Othello & Desdemona and John & Joanna. By exploring the different contexts, ideas and techniques incorporated into each text, we can apprehend the different messages that each composer has attempted to convey to their audience.

Othello – Power of Love

Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy, set in Elizabethan Times that present the relationship between, Othello, a ‘moor’ who’s an official in the Venetian army and Desdemona, the daughter of a noble Venetian Senator, Brabantio, and how despite their different experiences in love, a strong relationship can occur, without any initial external input.

Desdemona’s assertive behaviour towards romantically pursing Othello, demonstrates her confidence and power, which she maintains throughout the play. Most significantly, the fact that Othello did not ask for Brabantio’s permission to marry Desdemona, demonstrates how Othello did not consider the traditional values of Elizabeth society. However as they play develops, Iago’s manipulation of Othello’s insecurities, leads to the relationship between Othello and Desdemona falling apart.

This reflects Elizabethan society and its values towards love and marriage.

In Elizabethan times, a marriage between a man and a woman was considered extremely important. Women were generally considered to be in the possession of their father, this was because men were considered powerful and important people. It was in the father’s power to determine whom their daughter married, provided that his family were respectable and had money. A marriage between a ‘moor’ and a white would not have been socially acceptable in Elizabethan times, seeing that the Moorish skin colour portrayed a sense of filth and evil. Whites being superior and educated, while others were considered inferior.

This theme can be explored through the objectification of Desdemona in scene 1 Act 3 Lines 182-187 “How to respect you. You are lord of all my duty: I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband: And so much duty as many mother showed To you, preferring you before her father, so much I challenge that I may profess Due to the moor, my lord.” We see that Desdemona, is detaching herself from her father, just as her mother did to her father. This demonstrates her power and her ability to make decisions despite her father’s approval.

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