Comparative Response: Othello and King Oedipus. Compare the two characters from the two plays (Comparative essay)

Comparative Response: Othello and King Oedipus. Compare the two characters from the two plays (Comparative essay)King Oedipus and Othello are two characters in two different plays from the same names. ‘King Oedipus’ was written around c.425 and is a work of Greek tragedy. ‘Othello’ was written by Shakespeare in the early 1600’s and also shares the common theme of being a tragedy with ‘King Oedipus.’ Both King Oedipus and Othello are the main characters in their plays and throughout the plays face challenges to overcome their tragedies. Both King Oedipus and Othello are natural leaders & at the beginning are regarded well by their society. However, when they are both faced with tragedy you tend to feel more sympathy towards King Oedipus because he was unable to avoid his fate while Othello brought his fate upon himself.
Both King Oedipus & Othello are well regarded by society. King Oedipus is well regarded by the society of Thebes because he saved them from the Sphinx by solving the riddle. When Thebes is hit with the plague the citizens all come to King Oedipus because they believe that he will be able to save them once again. King Oedipus is also respected by the community because he is openly concerned for the people of Thebes. ‘I grieve for you, my children. Believe me, I know.´ Othello is also well respected as he is the General in the Venetian Army. Othello is well respected as he is polite, ‘My very noble and approved good masters,’ courageous, ‘valiant Moor,’ as he is referred to by the senator and also fascinating, ‘She loved me for the dangers I had passed,’ when Othello is referring to the stories about himself. He feels that he is just as important as anyone else in Venetian society and deserves the respect he is given, ‘as proud a fortune as this that I have reached.’ While King Oedipus is respected by the whole community of Thebes there are people who do not respect Othello such as Iago who described Othello as ‘an old black ram’ and Roderigo who referenced him as a ‘lascivious Moor.’ The references made by these two characters are referring to his colour and his African background.
Both King Oedipus and Othello did have some flaws in their character which contributed to their fall. King Oedipus is a very arrogant man as shown in the scene where Teiresias confronts Oedipus about his past. Oedipus quickly accuses Teiresias of having a part in the plague, ‘I tell you I do believe you had a hand in plotting,’ and offends him by making references to the fact that Teiresias is blind. ‘In your heart, if not with the eye.’ Oedipus is very quick to deny the fact that the plague could actually have something to do with him, ‘You dare to say it! Have you no shame at all?’ Othello’s character flaw is that he is quite easily made jealous of the fact that he believes Desdemona is having an affair. Without any real evidence except a scarf and Iago giving Othello the wrong idea, he believes that Desdemona is cheating on him, ‘Lie with her! Lie on her! Zounds, that’s fulsome!’ Othello is so confident that Desdemona is cheating on him, that with Iago’s help, he plots to kill Desdemona, ‘Ay, let her rot and perish, and be damned tonight, for she shall not live!’
While both of these characters flaws did contribute to their fall, King Oedipus could never really stop his fall while if Othello had not become so jealous so quickly then he could have possibly stopped his fall.
Othello was more responsible for his decline than King Oedipus was. King Oedipus fate was sealed before he was born when his father had visited the oracle of Delphi. The oracle told how Oedipus would kill his father and then marry his mother. Without realising that Oedipus did in fact murder the original King of Thebes and marry Queen Jocasta who was his mother. Oedipus tried to prevent his fate by staying away from the people that he believed were his parents, ‘Yes. I was determined not to kill my father.’ However, Oedipus’ story is proof that you can never escape you fate. However, Othello could have quite easily avoided his fall. His fall was motivated by jealously. Iago was jealous that Cassio had been given the job of Lieutenant by Othello, ‘He in good time must his Lieutenant be, and I-God bless the mark-his Moorship’s Ancient.’ Othello’s fall was based on Iago’s lies and stories about Cassio and Desdemona having an affair, ‘That nightly lie in those unproper bed.’ It is Othello’s harsh decisions that cause him to fall from his well respected position while it is King Oedipus’ fate which causes him to fall.
Each character coped with their decline in a different way. King Oedipus had said earlier in the play, ‘His fate will be nothing worse than banishment.’ However, when Oedipus did find out that he was the ‘unclean one’ who has caused the plague he punishes himself by repeatedly sticking pins in his eyes. ‘He pierced his eyeballs time and time again, till bloody tears ran down his beard-not drops.’ His reason for blinding himself is so that when he dies he cannot see his mother or father and see their shame. ‘How could I meet my father beyond the grave with seeing eyes; or my unhappy mother , against whom I have committed…heinous sin.’ King Oedipus fulfils the punishment that he promised would be paid to the ‘unclean thing’ and is banished from Thebes by Creon, ‘Command no more. Obey. Your rule is ended.’ Othello however copes with his fall by plotting with Iago to kill Cassio and Desdemona. ‘How shall I murder him, Iago?’ and ’she shall not live!’ But it is Othello who is being fooled. He believes that by killing the ‘gentle’ Desdemona, he is saving himself from a fall when in hindsight he has created his fall by murdering Desdemona. ‘Being done, there is no pause,’ shows Othello’s determination to kill Desdemona. However, Iago’s wicked and notorious planning is revealed when Emilia tells the story about the scarf. Othello realises that he has fallen from his, once, well respected position, ‘Here is my journey end.’ Othello copes with his pain of killing his wife because of the deceiving Iago by killing himself. ‘I kissed thee, ere I killed thee: no way but this, killing myself, to die upon a kiss.’ Cassio whom witnessed Othello’s suicide sees it as noble, ‘For he was great of heart.’ The last line of Othello, as with King Oedipus (’Command no more…,’) reflects on what a great man Othello was, ‘This heavy act with heavy heart relate.’
King Oedipus and Othello were both great and powerful men who lost their power because of events that happened in a short period of time. While King Oedipus’ fate was sealed right from his birth Othello could have prevented his fate but it was the jealously of Iago that eventually killed Desdemona, Emilia and Othello. The theme of tragedy and fate comes out in both of these plays and both plays prove that you cannot change fate and if you attempt to, the consequences could be fatal.
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