Compare/Contrast the tragic hero of Opedius Rex with the tragic hero of Othello the Moor. | My Paper Hub
Oedipus and Othello were heroic men
that became v...
Oedipus and Othello were heroic men
that became victims of the tragic downfalls that can be easily compared and
contrasted with each other with ease. Oedipus the King was written by Sophocles
while William Shakespeare wrote Othello. The two writers in their respect were
both influential and had significant impact and authority in the field of
writing during their generations. Their legacies of the two writers continue to
date and are of significant influence as playwrights of their generation. The
two playwright legends made the Oedipus and Othello masterpieces over different
eras and also generations (Godfrey, 202). Sophocles’ time of reign as a writer
was during the Golden Age of the Greek tragedy whereas the time that
Shakespeare worked on the Othello was during the Elizabethan period. The two
playwrights were born over 2000 years apart, but their actions were
significantly similar as they made vivid explanations and descriptions of
tragedy in the main characters (Godfrey, 205). Tragedy may be defined as a
narrative, poem or a tale that best gives a description of a downfall of an
individual. Both Oedipus and Othello fall into the category of tragedy in
literature. It is the tragedies and downfalls of Oedipus and Othello that can
be compared and contrasted.
The two characters were individual that
held a lot of power and influence as the main characters within their
respective tragedies. The Othello and the Oedipus Rex were featured as the main
characters and had magnanimous authority and prominence. Othello was an
individual that was greatly respected and held an impeccable record as a
general during the Venetian Army. Oedipus, on the other hand, was a newly
appointed King of Thebes (Will, 511). They were both very well respected
and also held a lot of influence and also honor from the community. They
asserted a high-level importance and a sense of authority within their
communities at their times. Their indication of power and might in society was
also demonstrated in the way they got into the positions of influence. They
both had to overcome a series of obstacles and opposition to gain the respect
and authority. Othello was a man of color at a period when the Caucasians were
viewed as the superior race and as a result he was looked down upon at his
time. As a human being, the society held even lesser importance and the
perception was of inferiority for the case due to the color of his skin. For
example, Brabanzio who was Desdemona’s father had refused to let the couple get
married just because Othello was a black man (Hallett and Elaine). On the other hand, Oedipus was a
white man in his society but also faced some form of opposition and difficulty
in his rise to power. He was necessitated to solve the riddle of Sphinx so as
to be able to accomplish his goal of saving the city of Thebes and he was later
made the King.
The Othello play is one that is purely
illusionist whereas the Oedipus Rex is one that even when watched, the viewer
can confidently ascertain that it is a performance that they are watching. The
Othello is plainly illusionist in the sense. The Othello only contained a form
of an ideal setting as was the case with the other plays by Shakespeare apart
from the backdrops that had some form of elements of scenery but the stage
remained bare with just a few scenic props and also in some cases elements (Will,
519). The Oedipus Rex, on the other hand,
was presentational as was the style in the classical Greece. It is just the
mere use of a mask that could not appeal to the public to get to have a feeling
or relieve the times that character lived. However, the audience would
constantly have a feeling that they were watching a play and not just taken for
a journey or an observation of life happenings as was the case with Othello (Hallett
and Elaine). The
Othello created a form of illusion to the viewers an aspect not achieved by the
performance of the Oedipus Rex.
Both Oedipus and Othello have some
nobility although Oedipus’ nobility is by birth whereas that of Othello is by
his deeds and career. Oedipus was born to a royal family as he is the son of
King Laius and his mother was Jocasta, who was the king and the queen of Thebes
at the time. Despite the fact that Oedipus was left to die in the mountains
after a prophecy that his son would kill the king who was his father, he is
rescued by a shepherd (Stinton, 221). The shepherd took him to the king of
Corinth and Merope which further indicated his noble upbringing, yet he was
also born of nobility. His nobility is further emphasized by his actions as a
grown up when he returns to Thebes and can save the people by solving the
riddle of Sphinx and hence able to save the people from the wrath of Sphinx
that was terrorizing the entire city. He is later crowned as the King of Thebes
but unknowingly marries his blood mother who is the queen which furthered his
nobility (Will, 516-517). On the contrary, Othello is born of a
small family and is also a man of color and hence is looked down upon even as
he grew up. His nobility only comes to be professed through his deeds in life.
His status among his people is that he is a Moor and a barbarian but his career
serving as a general in the Venetian army makes him change everything and shift
to being a man of honor and nobility. The people of Venetian accept him and
loves him for his actions. As if to defend his lack of nobility he says,
“"I fetch my life and being / From men of royal siege" (1.2.20-21). It
is his rank that makes him noble. His contemporaries also praise him as
"brave Othello" (2.1.37), and they declare that he "commands /
Like a full soldier" (2.1.35-36).
Pride is also another similarity that
the two characters in the tragedies possess in a great deal and also
contributes to their downfall (Hallett). Othello and Oedipus are men full of arrogance and pride
before their fall. It is because of their marginal accomplishments in life that
led to them suffering from great shame and loss. Oedipus shame is demonstrated
in the way that his incestuous and also the murder of his father are brought to
light and hence the pride is turned to shame (Hallett and Elaine). He further loses his mother and wife
Jocasta as she commits suicide upon discovering what she had done and out of
sheer anger and further pride that could not allow him to take the losses in
his life, Oedipus losses his sight after he hurts them with the gold cased
brooches that fastened his mother’s robe (Hallett and Elaine). He loses his sight just as he lost
his kingdom. Othello, out of his pride listens to villainous Lago and murders
his wife. As a result of that, he loses his honor in society and also all the
things that were most precious to him. He is branded as a murderer making him
move from being an honored and respected man to being ridiculed and no longer
respected. As a result of the losses, Othello could not take the loss and his
pride further comes into play as he commits suicide.
In conclusion, Oedipus the King written
by Sophocles and Othello was drafted by William Shakespeare are both kinds of
literature that involve tragedies of the main characters. They can both be
compared and contrasted despite the fact that they were written over different
time periods and eras. The two characters were heroes at their time and had
some sense of nobility though one was born in nobility while the other earned
the nobility through their actions. Moreover, the two literary pieces were
inspired by situations at their period though they demonstrated and also
depicted the realities of differing time periods.
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