The Tragedy Of Shakespeares Othello and King Lear
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The Tragedy Of Shakespeare’s Othello and King Lear
Over time critics have displayed Shakespeare’s Othello and King Lear as the most painful and exciting tragic deaths. Human flaws are portrayed through the main characters Othello and King Lear relating to today’s society. In these plays one experiences the failure of man’s nobility towards their leaders. Throughout Shakespeare’s plays, Othello and King Lear, the main characters, experience different hardships due to physical appearance, which result in similar loss of social order and end in tragic deaths.
Although King Lear and Othello consume much power they are still ridiculed by their appearance. King Lear is taunted by his relatives and close subjects because of old age. Many think that he is too old to rule. As a result his daughters Regan and Goneril take advantage of their fathers love, and old age consequently stripping him of his integrity. Goneril explains "Old fools are babies again, and must be used with checks as flatteries, when they are seen abused" (Barnet 1.3.59). Goneril does not speak highly of her father. She has lost all respect for him therefore feeling no guilt towards her actions. H. B. Charlton states that because of Goneril and Regan, King Lear loses social order of family, human relationships and the beginning of all man (Harbage 10). Man ridicules King Lear because of the stress of his old age and not
being able to hold control over his daughters. On the contrary Othello is ridiculed for his color. Consistently through out the play he is being called a moor by his so called loyal subjects. "I am one, sir, that come to tell you, your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs" (Brook 1.1.14). His men ridicule him because of his color. They make it seem as if he was not worthy to have Desdemona’s hand in marriage because of his color. Bradley states that Shakespeare never made it clear whether Othello was black or brown. Bradley believes that Othello is black because of his description and treatment by others. Through out the play you hear Desdemona’s father Brabantio, complain about his daughter marrying a black man or a moor. His marriage to Desdemona and trust in Iago are the downfalls of his life that lead to his tragic death.
Along with their flawed appearances King Lear and Othello also learn about man’s nobility. In King Lear one sees how his daughters Regan and Goneril treat their father like a helpless child. To his rescue comes along a courtier named Kent. He cares and tries to help King Lear through out the whole tragic play. Kent never left his leader, King Lear’s side.
Kent. Here is a place, my lord. Good my lord, enter. The tyranny of the open night’s too rough for nature to endure. Lear. Let me alone.
Kent. Good my lord, enter here. Lear. Wilt break my heart? Kent. I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter (Barnet 3.4.111).
Kent takes care of the old King Lear during the bad times. He is a complete opposite of Lears daughters Regan and Goneril. He helps Lear and expects nothing in return. Kent acts like a son to Lear. He treats him with the utmost respect and generosity. He stays with Lear to the end. In contrast Othello has an evil friend Iago, who destines Othello to death. According to Bernard Spivack, Iago is said to be Shakespeare’s greatest villain (Harbage 85). Iago is distraught with Othello because the position of lieutenant ( Iago expected to receive) was not given to him. For that Iago seeks revenge. He will ruin Othello’s life in any way that he can to relieve his soul of hate. Iago ruins Othello’s marriage and life. He constantly plots to ruin his relations with others. Iago is hurt for being betrayed by Othello and will stop at nothing to hurt him. Iago, is Othello’s biggest flaw due to the tragic end he brings.
Similarly King Lear and Othello end their lives in tragic death. King Lear dies of a broken heart when he hears that the one daughter that did love him Cordelia, was hanged. She was killed because of the chaos that was brought about the reign of the kingdom. Her death
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Othello, King Lear, British films, English-language films, Fool, Iago, Emilia, Cordelia, Goneril, Regan, William Shakespeare, Brabantio
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