Acomparison between Oedipus Rex and Othello
Fromthe onset, both the plays direct the readers mind into a world ofgreatness but which is bound for an inevitable downfall. One of themost common themes in the two pieces of writing is pride. Pride isone of the deadliest traits a human being can possess. Its effects onpeople however is often subtle at the start and hard to detect(Simons and Robert 5). Most of the people who are proud will neverconsider themselves to be truly proud until they come face to facewith the consequences of their pride. Sophocles and Shakespeare bothaddress this kind of dilemma in their plays Othello and Oedipus(Adamson 101). Through their nobility, their tragic flaws, the fallthis flaws cause and the suffering and wisdom they derive from thesame falls. Both characters reveal the true character of the tragichero and show the devastating consequences of the pride.
BothOedipus and Othello are distinguished by nobility Oedipus isdistinguished by birth and Othello on the other hand by adistinguished career. Oedipus is the son of king Laius and Jocastahis wife. Since there is a prophecy that sates king Laius will bekilled by his sons Oedipus is left in the mountain to die but latteron rescued and raised by a shepherd (Szondi 57). Not only is Oedipusnoble in his birth and upbringing, he was raised by Polybius king ofCorinth, but also noble in deed. Oedipus upon becoming a young man heanswers various riddles among which include who is terrorizing theircitizens and frees the city from this monster. He is in turn is madeking and unknowingly marries his mother the queen.
Othelloon the other hand is noble only by deed. Othello is considered anoutsider but accepted by the Venetian people just because of hisdistinguished career as a general of the Venetian army (Adamson 202).It is his rank that makes him noble. His people also praise him asbrave and declare that he commands like a full soldier. Both Othelloand Oedipus have the nobility that a true hero must have yet thisnobility is only a shield that covers the tragedy and weakness thatlies in both of them.
Aristotledefines tragedy as the imitation of a given action that is seriousand has moving magnitude and is in appropriate in it and can arousefear and pity. Throughout the play, Othello is challenged by Lago whoworks under him. lago presents the antagonistic character in the playdestined to ruin Othello and his family. In the play there is no lovehistory between Othello and his wife Desdemona (Shakespeare 112).Nothing good becomes of this play and Othello and his wife all dieand Lago remains to live on with no assumed justice for hisinterference with the rule of Othello.it is clearly evident that noone succeeds in this play except the antagonist. As a result the playis full of tragedy with the wrongdoer’s intention fully satisfied.
Inthe terms of Aristotle, Oedipus is a tragic hero because of histragic flaws and imperfection. Oedipus tragic flaws are due to hispride as he felt that he is better and stronger than the gods as wellas his self-righteousness. Aristotle used the word “hamartia” toindicate the tragic weakness (Szondi 5). According to Aristotlepercepts about tragedy, a tragic hero would be a man of noticeablequalities of behavior intelligent and powerful but by no meansperfect in what he does. Oedipus in this play is not as saint butfalls despite his qualities. He falls because of his mistakes despitehis position he fails like a common man in one sense.
UsingOedipus as an example Aristotle says that a tragic hero must be animportant and influential man who commits mistakes in judgment andmust suffer the consequences of his or her actions. The leader mustlearn the tragic error in his judgment and be a good and betterexample to others and a lesson to what happens when great men fallfrom their high social political positions.
Othellocontinues to confirm Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero. He isthe general of an army and his only fault is his deception by Lago.This makes the great leader human displaying his flaws despite hisoverall goodness (Shakespeare 224). the best type of hero asdescribed is the one that exists between the extremes, one who isneither perfect in virtues nor one who lets vices take over andcontrol their day to day way of living rather a hero is one whosurvives through various storms and miscalculations (Staley 87). Themurder of his wife Desdemona proves to be a wrong choice he madebecause of her affair and his miscalculated relationship to Lago ishowever not considered a tragedy and this does not make him a badleader (Adamson 136). Instead of causing death to his wife Othellowould have forgiven his wife and created a great ending buttragically this did not happen as there is no turning back withdeath. this leads to people feeling sorry for the tragic hero, he isnot only pitied but people understand his pain and frustration andeven in death he is considered a great leader for his human qualitiesonly falling short by the corruptive influence of other people(Benson 38).
Theflaws present in Othello are his trustworthiness of Lago as Lagocontinued with his deceitful schemes despite the effort made byOthello to maintain their friendship and also regarding his wifeDesdemona. Admitting his jealousy before taking his life makes him agood but tragic hero. AlthoughOthello is noble he manages to fallout through some given events in the play and his flaws are clearlyseen and stated throughout the play.
Othellowas possibly gullible he made a mistake of believing that his enemyas a friend and killing his wife clearly shows his level of pride andthis is a tragic error that is caught in a crisis situation and makesthe victim Othello to make bad judgment in his actions and thus leadto a great disaster (Staley 66). The flaws turn his heroism into atragedy.
Oedipuson the other hand also Cleary shows his flaws or harmatia. He is agreat and good king who is concerned about the welfare of his people.As a man he is dedicated to fighting evil. He even displays his goodleadership skills by talking to his people himself and not sendingmessengers and for this he is regarded as king of excellence. He wasa king who was afraid of coming wrong. His flaws are however revealedas being too proud and arrogant and he also has a bad temper and poorjudgment (Belfiore 193). Oedipus wrongly judges his situation.one ofthe wrong judgments includes marring a woman old enough to be hismother and also killing a man old enough to be his father and he didnot regret any of these decisions. It seems that Oedipus could haveavoided his ill destiny if he had not done any of the above mentionedacts
Oedipusas a tragic character is also heroic because of his continuousstruggle of the wellbeing of his people as well as his weaknessbefore the forces of his destiny (Belfiore 181). The tragedy ofOedipus clearly shows that man cannot control everything especiallyhis fate as nature has a good way of dealing of that.
Othelloand Oedipus both suffer a great tragedy shame and loss due to thepride within their pride. Oedipus pride turns to shame as therelationship between him and his mother is clearly brought to lightand loses things that are dear and close to him. Othello on the otherhand loses his wife Desdemona and loses his honor as he is branded amurder and replaced as governor. Pride is a destructive vice in lifeand those who are proud are destined for tragedy. This is implied byboth Othello and Oedipus Rex. According to the concept of tragedythat is brought forth by Aristotle, one who becomes an engineer ofhis own downfall, does not have privilege of claiming that he is avictim of fate (Averroes and Butterworth 92). In these two plays, themain protagonists, and some of the other acts, find themselves caughtup in the nets that they cast themselves.
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