The tragedy is an event that leads to an unhappy ending for instance death, destruction or suffering. Othello and Oedipus are two examples of plays that build upon tragedies that play out at the end with an unpleasant ending. In Othello, the play starts in Venice, Italy considered the land of water and love. The play centres on power and love where Othello has unofficially married Desdemona. The Duke calls Othello and sends him to fight in Cyprus where instead of the war he finds a big party there. Conflicts erupt between Rodrigo and Cassio leading to Cassio dismissal. As the story ends, Othello kills Desdemona and Emilia realizes that her problems arise from her husband’s actions. Othello commits suicide after learning he would be taken to Venice for trial for the killings (Critical Essays Shakespeare’s Tragedy). In Oedipus Rex, King Oedipus sends Creon to establish the cause of the plague that struck the city. Creon says that the epidemic will be lifted once the man who killed King Laius is brought to book. According to CliffsNotes, Queen Jocasta fails to believe that Oedipus is a murderer. An oracle confides that the king would be killed by his son who will then marry her mother. To evade this curse, Jocasta disposed her infant child to die and avoid the curse. However, the abandoned child was rescued and eventually killed the king who was his father and married her mother. The tragedy is evident in Othello in the form of killing where Othello is motivated by betrayal and love to kill his wife while Oedipus kills his father and marries her mother due to his arrogance to listen to the oracles.
To start with, Othello is considered as the tragic hero which according to Aristotle is a person occupying a prestigious estate. For one to be fit within the characteristics of a tragic hero, they must be high ranking in the society but face downfall due to the flaws. He is a tragic hero since he is respected and enjoys power at the beginning of the play but later falls after killing his wife. Othello kills his wife for fear that she is cheating on him which is a double tragedy. According to CliffsNotes Othello is a respected African hero who commands respect from the other leaders in Venice and the army (Analysis of the Tragedy Othello). He commands honour from the people who refer to him as the “captain.” The ordinary citizen loves him and is popular with them due to his excellent qualities. Othello’s ignorance, however, delineates him from the people when he is tricked by Lago to believe that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. Othello’s actions lead to the death of her wife which is the greatest tragedy. The killing is a tragedy that comes at the end of the book resulting from the flaws.
Similarly, Othello loves his wife and this result to the tragedy that is evident throughout the play. Love like in any other Shake spears plays a vital aspect in this play. Love is the major driving force behind the actions committed by most of the characters in the play especially Othello and Desdemona. According to Paperap, Desdemona lies to her husband concerning the missing handkerchief that starts a vicious cycle of betrayal. Desdemona was aware that this handkerchief was so useful to him and did not wish to tell him directly to avoid annoying him. It is evident that Othello went through betrayal due to his love for Desdemona. Desdemona knew that Othello loved him and could not stand her cheating (Critical Essays Shakespeare’s Tragedy). The betrayal perpetrated by Lago is different since it was influenced by hate and greed for material things. The characters in the play display a wide range of issues including ethnicity, betrayal, and love which the play has to cope with as the genesis of the tragedy. These issues result in problems that result in tragedies that characterize the last parts of the play.
As noted above, betrayal contributes to tragedy in the play starting from the courts up to lago. The Italian court ruled in favour of Othello which motivated Rodrigo to pay Lago to spread deception and lies. Shakespeare uses this element of betrayal proficiently throughout the novel to put his message of how betrayal is a contributor to tragedy. According to Paperap all the betrayals in the play centre on Lago and its evident that he is not trustworthy. He betrays every character at different points of the story to the extent of targeting his wife. He betrays Cassio by ensuring he drink shaming himself in front of Othello (Critical Essays Shakespeare’s Tragedy). Lago further betrays Cassio by convincing him to go and ask Desdemona to help in reinstating him from his position. Lago convinces her wife to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief and leave it in his room which is betrayal at its best. However, the person who feels the brunt of betrayal the most is Othello. Lago convinces Othello that Desdemona does not love him but is obsessed with Cassio. All the other forms of deception result in tragedy but the most significant results from the killing of Desdemona due to a mixture of love and betrayal.
Apart from Othello, Oedipus Rex is another excellent example of tragedy that is evident in the setting, atmosphere, characters, and mood. The dialogue and the language used to emphasize the drama about the life of ill-fitted Oedipus. Aristotle one of the greatest philosophers used the Oedipus complex to explain the kind of tragedies that affect the play. According to EsaybyExample, the tragedy in Oedipus thus be understood from Aristotle’s perspective. For an issue to be considered as a tragedy, it must have complete actions, effects, cause and a link between these main elements. Oedipus is, in this case, a tragic character since he is committed to tackling the problems affecting the country and the people (Sophocles’ Oedipus the King). His tragic character, however, invites some terrible weaknesses in the long run. His tragedy stems from the overconfidence on what he knows or seems to know. Oedipus becomes very careless and lacks respect towards the gods and the words of the oracles. He does not listen to the inner voice directed to him sealing his fate in the negative light.
Likewise, the next tragedy is evident in the atmosphere where the play exposes us to very frightening conditions. The main characters engage in dramatic conflicts that destabilize the reader throughout the play. The play maintains a serious tone throughout unlike in most Shakespeare plays which are full of comical tragedy. The reader is therefore subjected to fear, frustration and anxiety. The readers’ false hopes are guided by the tragic purification of emotions and the tragic change of characters. According to Esay by Example, the greatest tragedy by Oedipus, however, is when he killed his father and then married her mother. According to Shmoop, when Oedipus father and mother gave birth to the boy, they learned of the prophecy that their child would kill them and hence decided to throw him away (Oedipus the King). The son was however rescued and brought up. He learned of the prophecy that he would kill his father and marries the mother and was determined to stop this at all costs. He understood that there would be two concurrent sins and a tragedy. He runs away from his adoptive parents to avoid fulfilling the prophecy but out of ignorance of the advice of the oracle. On the way, he comes across a king and engages in a fight killing him and as the norm assuming the throne in Thebes and inheriting the queen (Oedipus the King). He realizes that he has just committed the acts he was avoiding and hence gorges her eyes out in the sorrow of the action.
Although the plays center on tragedies, they are very different based on their motivations and the results. Othello is an industrious man who commands attention due to his excellent qualities even in the presence of the senators in Venice. He is of African origin, and he takes pride in the ability to command whites in Venice. According to Paperap (2017), Love is one of the most significant causes of the tragedy in Othello since most of the terrible acts are motivated by love. The love is however not true love since a person who kills the other cannot kill them. Othello must be fascinated with Desdemona, and that’s why he kills her welcoming the tragedy (Analysis of the Tragedy Othello). The tragedy builds over time from the start up to the end culminating to killings, the most significant tragedy. Oedipus tragedy is anchored on ignorance. In this case, Oedipus is arrogant and does not wish to listen to the oracle’s words. He wants to do what he wants without informing other people what he intends to do (Sophocles’ Oedipus the King). His act of running away to avoid killing his parents but eventually kills the father and marries the mother.
Although the plays portray tragedy in different ways, the end point is that they lead to death. They show that tragedy results from a culmination of various internal and external events. For instance, in Othello, court cases, love and betrayal are the events leading to tragedy (Critical Essays Shakespeare’s Tragedy). The tragedy affects almost all the people before it is realized. In Shmoop, The king, queen, and Oedipus were eventually affected by the disaster. It is therefore evident that tragedy does not strike at once but a culmination of different events affecting different people.
To conclude, Othello and Oedipus are two plays that focus on tragedy in human life. In Othello, Cassio is betrayed and made to think that her wife is unfaithfulness. He cannot believe that her wife does not live her and ends up with the tragedy of killing her. Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother after ignoring the prophecy that he would kill his parents. He kills the parents without knowing he was living with his birth parents and then spiked his eye which is the tragedy due to arrogance. The play shows that tragedy stems from various events and is a process that starts slowly but ends with an ugly incidence.
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