Adapting The Language Of Othello English Literature Essay

With a position to presenting Shakespeare ‘s Othello with its mark histrions and audiences being senior high school pupils of 17-18 old ages old in China, this paper 1 ) explores how to accommodate the linguistic communication of the concluding portion of scene 3, act 3 of Othello ; 2 ) examines the linguistic communication of this portion in footings of subject, secret plan, and characters ; 3 ) identifies the possible challenges in practising the drama with the pupils ; 4 ) and eventually discusses how to turn to the challenges.

Adapting the Language

1. The Target Group of Actors and Audiences

Both the histrions and the audiences will be senior high school pupils in China in the age bracket of 17-18.

2. Goals

The audiences are supposed to acquire to cognize Othello as a drama of racism, reflecting on how racist attitudes destroy the brotherhood of black and white, and to larn a moral lesson from the drama, being to the full involved in the conflict between good and evil.

3. Language Adaptation

Baraldi ( 2009 ) noted that for pupils to get a 2nd linguistic communication through play activities, the input should be comprehendible and somewhat beyond their proficiency degree. Therefore, pupils executing Shakespearean dramas will be more comfy with the dramas if the instructor can accommodate the linguistic communication beforehand. With respect to Othello, the linguistic communication will be adapted in conformity with the following 3 regulations.

First, antediluvian words and antique grammar will be reformulated in apparent English. Take the linguistic communication in the last portion of scene 3, act 3 as an illustration, “ I saw’t non, thought it non, it harmed non me ( Shakespeare, 1957, a…?.a…?.69, ) ” will be changed into “ I did n’t see it, did n’t believe about it, and it did n’t ache me ” . In peculiar, the “ false friends ” , a class of words which have lost their old significances and developed new 1s, can misdirect the pupils were they unadapted ( Crystal, 2008 ) . For illustration, if the lines “ he that is robbed, non desiring what is stol’n ( ibid. a…?.a…?.70 ) ” are left unadapted, the pupils may construe the word “ wanting ” , a “ false friend ” , in the modern sense and understand the lines as “ a robbed adult male does n’t desire what has been stolen from him ” . Therefore, the instructor had better replace the word “ desiring ” with “ losing ” and paraphrase the above lines into “ a adult male with no thought of holding been robbed will non lose the things that have been stolen from him ” .

Second, sentences that are excessively complex or excessively long will be transformed into short, simple 1s. For illustration, “ if there be cords or knives, toxicant, or fire, or smothering watercourses, I ‘ll non digest it ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” will be changed into “ if there are methods of self-destruction, I will kill my ego in order non to endure from this ” .

Third, content that is culture-specific or inappropriate for the age bracket will travel through reformulation. For illustration, in the lines used by Othello to contrast Desdemona ‘s pureness in the yesteryear and her supposed perfidy at present – “ her name that was every bit fresh as Dian ‘s countenance is now begrimed and black as mine ain face ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” , the spiritual name “ Dian ” is difficult for Chinese pupils to grok. Thus the lines will be changed into “ her repute that was every bit pure as snow in the yesteryear is now every bit black as my face ” . In add-on, there is much foul content in Othello, which is inappropriate for pupils aged 15 to 16. Hence, the obscene looks used by Iago to depict the fancied sexual intercourse between Desdemona and Cassio in the last portion of scene 3, act 3 – “ grossly gape on, behold her topped ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” , will be changed into “ watch them holding sex ” .

Managing the Language

1. Subject

The chief subjects of Othello presented among the mark group will be foremost the issue of race bing in the interracial matrimony of the black adult male Othello and the white adult female Desdemona and second the issue of morality connected to Iago ‘s technology of a series of misinterpretations between the twosome which leads Othello to kill Desdemona and himself at the terminal.

“ Her name, that was every bit fresh as Dian ‘s countenance, is now begrimed and black as mine ain face ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” are the lines said by Othello to pull a analogue between his inkiness and Desdemona ‘s begrimed repute ( Dillion, 2007 ) . The lines are indispensable to the subject of black and white in that it shows that the racial bias held by the society against Othello has taken root in Othello ‘s ain psyche and go an built-in portion of him ( O’Toole, 2002 ) .

“ O wretched sap that liv’st to do thine honestness a frailty! O monstrous universe! Take note, take note, O universe, To be direct and honest is non safe ( a…?.a…?.71 ) ” are the lines Iago uses to feign to be giving warnings reluctantly and carry throughing his responsibility as a friend ( Bradley, 2007 ) . These lines are indispensable to the subject of good and evil for they show how Iago brazenly deceives Othello into believing that he is honorable and that Desdemona is heathen.

2. Plot

Homan ( 2004 ) claimed that when paring a drama, the concluding merchandise should reflect the proportion of the original parts. Therefore, before cutting the linguistic communication, it is extremely recommended that the manager get to cognize the weightiness of the different scenes to the secret plan line. After all, like music, play has its ain beat and alterations of cardinal ( Wallis and Shepherd, 2002 ) . To cut the linguistic communication or scene in a proper manner, the manager needs to dram a secret plan diagram and knows the of import alterations of key.

In the last portion of scene 3, act 3, Othello is distraught over the supposed criminal conversation of Desdemona and furiously demands Iago to supply cogent evidence. Iago therefore makes up the untruthful history of Cassio speaking about Desdemona in his dream and utilizing her hankie. Albeit Othello keeps reiterating his petition for cogent evidence, e.g. “ scoundrel, be certain thou turn out my love a prostitute! Be certain of it ; give me the optic cogent evidence ( ibid. a…?.a…?.70 ) ” , “ do me to see’t ; or at the least so turn out it ( ibid. a…?.a…?.70 ) ” , “ I ‘ll hold some cogent evidence ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” , “ give me a life ground she ‘s unpatriotic ( a…?.a…?.72 ) ” , these lines must n’t be deleted because they non merely shows the battles in Othello ‘s head but besides serve as the foundation based on which Iago returns to the use of the hankie.

3. Fictional character

Othello, the supporter, is a Moresque general with chief qualities of nobility, trustingness, honestness, every bit good as low self-esteem related to racial bias. The lines “ her name, that was every bit fresh as Dian ‘s countenance, is now begrimed and black as mine ain face ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” is of import for the character of Othello in that it shows the lower status composite nourished in Othello ‘s head. It implies pitiably that the stereotyping of Othello exists non merely in the other characters, but besides in Othello himself. When he despises Desdemona, he is in fact demoing hatred to his ain inkiness ( O’Toole, 2002 ) .

Iago, the adversary, is the retainer and “ confidant ” of Othello with chief qualities of villainy, craft, and duplicitousness. The sentence by which Iago creates a ocular image of Desdemona and Cassio doing love – “ every bit premier as caprine animals, every bit hot as monkeys, every bit salt as wolves in pride, and saps every bit gross as ignorance made rummy ( ibid. a…?.a…?.72 ) ” is indispensable to attesting the features of Iago as it is one of those cases that Iago habitually transforms human existences into animate beings ( O’Toole, 2002 ) . This non merely displays the meanness of Iago who can non halt tie ining sex with animate beings, but besides reveals the evilness of Iago in making ocular images of the sexual intercourse between Cassio and Desdemona in Othello ‘s head ( Jang, 2007 ) .

Challenges to Second Language Learners

1. Subject

Of the 2 primary dramatic intents of this drama, racism is likely the more hard one for senior high schools pupils in China to understand. With the bulk of the people in China belonging to the xanthous race, it is hard for Chinese pupils to place with the underpriviledged black.

2. Plot

In Othello, there are a figure of backstories, e.g. the portion in which Othello chooses Cassio instead than Iago to be his lieutenant, the portion in which Desdemona listens infatuatedly to Othello ‘s recount of his heroic escapades, which are non staged in the scenes and do it instead hard for the histrions to acquire a clear thought of the secret plan and to hold a consistent apprehension of the different scenes.

3. Fictional character

The functions of Othello and Iago, with pronounced qualities to show and distinctive lines to project, are disputing and should be played by great histrions. Potter ( 2002 ) argues that compared with most other functions, visual aspect is a more indispensable key for the function of Othello to be successful. For 2nd linguistic communication scholars, nevertheless, being high in stature and have oning black makeup are still non plenty to portray Othello successfully. The histrion needs to manage the double nature of Othello as hero and scoundrel good. For lines full of magnificence, e.g. “ wherein I spake of most black opportunities, of traveling accidents by inundation and field ; of hairbreadth flower stalks I ‘ Thursday ‘ at hand lifelessly breach ; of being taken by the insolent enemy ( ibid. a…?.a…?.17 ) ” , Othello should talk strongly and mellifluently, with pride and award ( Marcus, 2003 ) . For the lines “ swell, bosom, with thy fraught, for Ti ‘ of auspics linguas ( ibid. a…?.a…?.73 ) ” , Othello should expose that he has become ferocious and wicked. As to the function of Iago, the lines “ the Moor already changes with my toxicant. Dangerous amour propres are in their natures toxicants ( ibid. a…?.a…?.69 ) ” , should be projected to to the full uncover his qualities of pettiness and greed ( Marcus, 2003 ) . When stating the lines “ O wretched sap, that liv’st to do thine honestness a frailty! ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” , with assumed artlessness, Iago should demo his qualities of lip service and disingenuity ( Marcus, 2003 ) .

Managing the Challenges

1. Subject

In the manager ‘s work of steering the histrions through the challenges, the most critical one is to assist the histrions to the full sympathize with the subject of racism. The manager can take the histrions in the treatment of the permeant ethnicity jobs or the migration issue in China, inquiring them to conceive of that Othello was born in rural China while Desdemona was born in a scholarly and affluent household. By seting the drama into China ‘s context, the histrions can easy cognize that the Othello from rural China and the Desdemona from a rich urban household will be confronted with every bit many troubles to be together as the twosome of black and white bash. Additionally, the histrions can theorize how otherwise Branbatio might hold reacted when hearing the matrimony between his girl and Othello if Othello were white ( Christenbury, 1997 ) .

2. Plot

As to the several backstories that are non staged in the scenes, it will be utile for the histrions to track down the imaginations of these narratives and move them out ( Mills, 2008 ) . For illustration, the line said by Othello “ my narrative being done, she gave me for my strivings a universe of suspirations ( ibid.a…?.a…?.18 ) ” provides background information for the histrions to improvize how Desdemona responds when she hears Othello ‘s heroic escapades ( Mills, 2008 ) . Visualizing and moving out the backstories can assist decrease the trouble in groking the narrative as a whole.

3. Fictional character

As noted by Homan ( 2004 ) , the histrions should play their characters as human existences instead than as declaimers. The histrions should take part in their functions and know why they say their lines. For illustration, the histrion playing Iago should bear in head the major motivations for him to be so deadly, which, as presented in the drama text, are the loss of opportunity to be promoted and the suspect that Othello has been holding an matter with Iago ‘s married woman Emilia ( Mills, 2008 ) .

After acquiring a deep cognition of his character and the context, the histrion should project the lines with the most proper emotion. When researching the tone of the lines, the histrions can pattern different ways of projecting and inquire the moving group to think what he says the line for ( Anderson, Hughes & A ; Manuel, 2008 ) . With a rule of anchoring the readings on the text ( Porter, 2009 ) , the moving group can give suggestions to better project the line. For illustration, as to the lines “ I thank you for this net income, and from hence I ‘ll hold no friend, sith love strains such offense ( ibid. a…?.a…?.71 ) ” , the histrion playing Iago can project the lines in several ways, indignantly, innocently, unhappily, etc. and inquire the moving group to take the most appropriate one and offer grounds.

4. Rehearsal

In footings of dry run, the manager can first work through each scene with the book, so promote the histrions to improvize each scene ( Wessels, 2007 ) . Improvisation enables the histrions to be independent of the book and to memorise their lines in a stressless manner ( Wessels, 2007 ) . At the frock dry runs, the manager can ask for a little figure of audiences so as to enable the histrions to acquire used to being watched every bit early as possible ( Wessels, 2007 ) . In a word, a clear manner of leading works best for the histrions at the beginning ( Wessels, 2007 ) . As the histrions understand more of the drama, they will be more involved in managing the challenges of the presentation.


This paper represents a preliminary analysis of how to present Shakespeare ‘s Othello by and for high school pupils of 17-18 old ages old in China. In general, the drama is tightly structured that its entireness should be kept. However, sing the English proficiency degree and cultural background of its mark histrions and audiences, it is advisable that the instructor adapt the linguistic communication to do it more comprehendible and acceptable while guaranting that the version is consistent with the drama ‘s subjects, secret plan and characters.

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