How Successful Is Exposure as a Transformation of Othello?

1 January 2017

Mal Peet I believe has successfully transformed Othello into a ‘modern day tragedy’, Exposure. He uses many similar characters, with many of the same personalities/motives. The two texts also explore many of the same themes, such as the outsider, racism and reputation. Mal Peet puts a modern spin on the tale. The two texts portray and explore the main themes through different structures and language features. Othello by William Shakespeare, written in the 17th century when the main focus of plays were their rich language.

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Peet uses colloquial language which grabs the modern day readers attention and sets it apart from Othello “It sucks man”. The narrative of Othello doesn’t venture from the main plot, whereas in Exposure there are many distractions and less significant sub-plots. Mal Peet uses things such as emails and newspaper articles to tell the story. He emphasises the influence media has on the western society. This text is also narrated in third person which allows the reader to better connect with the characters and understand their thoughts and motivations.

Both Texts also use dramatic irony, mainly used to reveal to the audience Iago/Diego’s plans ” to be suspected, framed to make women false”. The different language features in the texts help to set the context of the story. In both texts Othello/Otello is seen as an ‘outsider’. In Othello Desdemona comes from a rich family, and when she falls in love with Othello, the outsider, her racist father is far from happy. Although he is seen as a “Valiant Moor” Brabantio doesn’t believe he is good enough for his daughter “Our house is not a grange”.

After being sent from Venice the civilised sophisticated city, to the border of barbaric land of Cyprus, Othello becomes vulnerable this gives Iago an even bigger advantage. The metaphor “that green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on”, foreshadows the events to come from Othello putting all his trust in Iago. These ideas carry on to Exposure, where Otello moves from the northern football team to join Rialto in the south. His enormously costly move, funded mainly by Nestor Brabanta.

Brabanta is quite satisfied with his decision until his daughter marries the football star. This reveals Brabanta racism, thinking Otello is not good enough for his daughter. In the new city and circumstances, Otello puts all his trust in his manager Diego, which is the beginning of his down fall. One of the sub-plots used by Mal Peet is that of Bush, Bianca and Felicia. This is highlighting the gruesome actions of the government to get rid of ‘street kids’ “He’d cut another one and said there was another one inside that one to”.

This makes the audience think about how different life is in the slums for Bush compared to the life rich celebrity Desmerelda lives. The ideas of hunger and corruption are revealed. The description “Flat, slow, drops” creates foreshadowing for Bianca’s death, which is framed on Otello. In Othello, Iago has a range of motives to tear apart Othello, he hears rumours that Othello had slept with his wife, whilst they weren’t true he continues with his plans creating his web of lies. Iago is also jealous of Othello and wants to feel powerful.

Iago uses the idea of sexual jealousy against Othello, poisoning his mind by convincing him his wife was having an affair with Cassio “She did deceive her father, marrying you”. In Exposure Diego talks about how he believes Otello doesn’t deserve to be a ‘hero’ and that people shouldn’t look up to him, he is jealous of Otello and threatened by him. Diego thinks he deserves more “It reduces all of us; it reduces me”. Love is one of the most prominent idea explored in both texts. Othello and Desdemona defy people and society.

Desdemona even goes against her father “She is abused, stol’n from me, and corrupted by spells, medicines… ” Brabantio believes Othello has used ‘black magic’ to gain his daughters love. It seemed from the start that their loved was doomed. The idea of defying society and following their hearts is used to in Exposure, with the love between Otello and Desmerelda. Although they do not die like in Othello, it does end with them separated, ending as a tragedy. Reputation also becomes a large theme in both texts. Othello and Otello both slowly lose their good reputations as the narrative plays out.

Othello starts out as a noble glorious and trustworthy man. Once he has moved to the barbaric land of Cyprus he too slowly becomes more and more barbaric, simply because he had believed everything that Iago had told him. Throughout the play Othello becomes more like Iago in how he acts and speaks. In Exposure Otello start out as a ‘hero’ a fantastic sports star, but is cleverly manipulated by his manager. As the media gets hold of more and more stories about the star, set up by Diego, he begins to lose his good reputation.

In the end being framed for looking at child pornography and the murder of Bianca, his good reputation is all but gone. which leads to the separation of the two lovers. In conclusion the texts are quite similar with the main plot, Exposure being a modern twist on the 17th century play by William Shakespeare. Exposure was a successful transformation as it changes the context if the play and includes today’s struggles and problems, such as poverty, media and organised crime. This helps the modern day audience to connect to the story and characters.

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