The plot of the film Stage Beauty involves the roles of men and women in the theater. At one point, women are not allowed to work as actresses in the theater. So, men will perform the roles of women characters. This ultimately changes in time and women are allowed to work in the theater. This alters the life of the character Ned as he loses his job when Maria takes over his role of Desdemona from Othello. Many different Shakespeare plays could have been selected. However, Othello was chosen. This is no a choice that was made at random. Othello is very important to the plot and themes of this particular play.
There are a number of reasons why Othello is picked as the play within this movie. Of all the reasons, it would be that the characters of Ned and Maria share a number of qualities with characters of the play Othello. Because of this there is a great deal of symbolism between the characters in the movie and the characters in Shakespeare’s play. Ned is no longer able to play women on stage. Because of this he becomes confused as to who he is. He had been playing a female role for so long he is not sure how to play the role of a man. This makes his life confusing and something of a tragedy.
This is very much like the character of Othello. In the play, the character of Othello was a very tragic person. He was also very confused about his place in the world just as Ned became a confused person as well. In the play, Othello was mislead by Iago to kill his wife Desdemona. At the end of the play, Othello realizes he had been misguided and realizes the horrible crime he has committed due to his foolishness. In the play, Ned and Maria are like Othello. They play roles that are guided by others. In time, they do not really know who they are and are lead by other people’s actions.
Just as Othello is led by Iago, Ned’s life is led by the rule of acting that bar men. In the end, the rules change and his life is upended. This is similar to what happens to Othello at the end of his life. Also, we must look at the character of Desdemona since it is central to the themes of the movie, too. Desdemona is murdered because false stories of her are spread to Othello. When this happens, she loses her identity in the eyes of Othello and becomes someone else. While this is not her fault, she must suffer unfortunate consequences anyway. In a way, this is similar to Ned’s life since he loses his job when the rules of society change.
It soon leads to the public changing their opinion of him since he is no longer a prominent professional actor. This also affects Maria as well. Maria is not as good in the role of Desdemona as Ned was. This creates much conflict and confusion because since she is a woman she should have performed the role better than Ned. However, this is not the case and it creates anguish for her as a result. This is similar to the anguish Othello and Desdemona feel in their play. Actually, much is similar between the characters in the movie and the play. That is why Othello makes the perfect play for the movie.