Thursday, September 28th, 2017...5:16 pmkropfm

The Importance of Talking Animals

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Our discussion on Tuesday about the significance of the parrot in Aladdin being named Iago led me to think of other Disney animated films and how their choice of animals is often secretly symbolic. Obviously Disney doesn’t expect children to realize the symbolism in animals. However, if you think about it, Disney is being pretty clever with its choices. One of my favorite talking animal films is the classic Robin Hood rendition in which all of the characters are animals, including Robin Hood as a clever and sneaky fox and King Richard (the Lionheart) as an actual lion.

If I were to create a new production of Othello, I would make it into an animated movie with talking animals as all of the characters. As cheesy as that sounds, it would act as a visual representation of each character’s personality traits, while also making it a fun and exotic show. I mean, who doesn’t want to see talking animals performing a classic Shakespeare play?

Iago’s character would become a snake in my version. His manipulative personality is easily represented through the typical devilish association with snakes. The biblical animal is well known for whispering secrets in others’ ears to get them to do things for its own benefit.

Desdemona would be a swan, due to her fair and elegant appearance. A white swan is often associated with beauty, one of Desdemona’s most prominent qualities.

Othello would be a lion. Lions, the king of the jungle, represent nobility, courage, and majesty. Othello’s character definitely incorporates these traits as a soldier as well as a man that faces many obstacles from Iago’s manipulations.

These changes to the original Othello focus on some of the most important parts of the story and enhance it by highlighting what motivates each character (i.e. beauty, nobility, malice).


  • This makes me think—what if Othello were a tiger in a natural habitat usually inhabited by Lions? What would the music be like? I keep wondering how someone could convert the atmosphere of Venice into a wilderness setting and it’s exciting! Thanks for making me think about this!

  •   Professor Seiler
    September 29th, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Megan–these are ingenious ideas for how to align Othello’s principal triangle of characters with (animated) animal types. Would your Disney (?) animated Othello be for children?

  •   Rachel Lockwood
    September 29th, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Megan. This post is really interesting first because it’s interesting to think about the supposedly very “tame” and “civilized” setting of Venice fading away into the unruly wild (as Cho was saying in the comment above). I wonder how the change in setting would effect each character’s personalities? It’s also interesting to think about Othello as being targeted toward children (assuming that is your intent with animated animals, but then again it doesn’t have to be). Are the concepts of gender and race in Othello something we as a society want children to be exposed to at such a young age? Should they be exposed to them so that they are better equipped with the knowledge of what not to think?

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