SHAKESPEARE, OTHELLO 1
Othello is a tragedy play by Shakespeare, thought to have thought tohave been written in the first decade of 1600. It is based on thestory of another book written by Cinthio. On the other hand, Much AdoAbout Nothing is a comedy by Shakespeare believed to have beenwritten between 1598 and 1599. Shakespeare wrote this play towardsthe end of his career and is considered as one of his best comediesbecause it uses a combination of elements of love, strong humor,mistaken identities and serious reflections on court politics, shame,and honor. Both plays walk through the problem of how we know what istrue, which are evident throughout the plays.
In Othello, the problem of how we know what is true is explored inseveral ways throughout the book. At several instances, the plot ofOthello bears a resemblance to those of Shakespeare Comedies giventhat it is established upon jealousy and misrecognition.Misrecognition and jealousy is a significant aspect that is highlyvisible in both Othello and Much Ado About Nothing. Although themisunderstandings in Much Ado About Nothing are acknowledged, and allwill "live happily ever after," those in Othello leads to atragic end. Deception as the means to an end is a pretty common themein Othello and Much Ado About Nothing. The plots of the two plays arebased upon thoughtful deceptions, some nasty and othersnonthreatening. This theme brings up the issue of how we know what istrue. This is evident in Othello, for instance, when we see Lagoskillfully manipulating the other characters as his puppets that itlooked they were acting on their free will. He puts Othello into aproper state of mind to be eaten up by jealousy. Lago takes advantageof Cassio`s uneasiness on seeing Othello by translating it as a signof guiltiness. Lago`s interpretation, together with Desdemona`senthusiastic advocating on behalf of Cassio plants a seed ofsuspicion in Othello`s mind, who exhibits his confusion about hiswife by telling to leave him alone. Othello falls for Lago`s trick,and he readily believes that his wife was cheating on him withCassio. Due to this, it takes little circumstantial proof to convincehim of Desdemona`s unfaithfulness. In this case, Othello perceivedthe say of Lago to be true, and he did not bother to find out thetruth by himself (Shakespeare, 2012).
The same scheming and trickery are also evident in Much Ado AboutNothing. There are many ways Claudio would have employed to find outthe truth about the allegations about Hero. Sadly, he chose to followDon John`s words and be believes that Hero was promiscuous. Even whenDon John promises to show him a "proof," he neitherquestions John`s means nor motive. He plays along and falls deep intoJohn and Borachio`s evil plan. During that night, it was verydisturbing for Claudio and Don Pedro to consider Don John`sallegations and to willingly believe that it is Hero they werewatching making love to another person on the window. They did notbother to even investigate the matter further or interrogate Heroherself about the same. It is hard to be sympathetic for Don Pedroand Claudio after witnessing how they quickly they believe Hero`sevil, and what they do to her later on the wedding day. Claudioshames her in public, and he says to Leonato "Give not thisrotten orange to your friend. She`s but the sign and semblance of herhonor" However, after the denounced wedding, the friar devises aplan to uncover the truth about Hero`s allegations. Hero`s death isstaged, and finally, the whole truth comes to light cleansing hername.
In Much Ado About Nothing, the couple Claudio and Hero appears to beparamount to the play as a whole. First, the two are presented arethe major characters in the play. Also, their relationship runsthroughout the story, and Shakespeare artfully uses it to build onother relationships in the story. For instance, the relationshipbetween Benedick and Beatrice is developed from that of Claudia andHero. However, the readers are made aware that Benedick and Beatricehad dated before, but not for long. Shakespeare draws a parallelbetween the couple Benedick and Beatrice, and their opposites inClaudio and Hero. Claudio is an ideal example of a male during thattime, and Hero is soft and submissive as was expected of a younglady. The relationship of Beatrice and Benedick challenges thetraditional and male-controlled expectations of the community, and itcan be clearly seen that despite this, their love is much deeper ascompared to that of Claudio and Hero. There are similarities andcontrasts between these two couples.
The whole plot of this story rotates around the couple, Claudio, andHero. The couple is portrayed as the Elizabethan couple in the playbecause of the masculine society that the play is based upon. Assuch, Hero is brought out as weak and vulnerable young woman whileClaudio is shown as an influential and noble man. At the weddingreception, Claudio decides to shame Hero and says “There, Leonato,take her back again Give not this rotten orange to your friend.”She does not defend even when she was insulted and accused ofprostitution, and she says “Is my lord well, that he doth speak sowide?” instead of defending her name she inquires if Claudio waswell which shows a sign of weakness in her.
Shakespeare uses this relationship to bring out the theme ofrealistic and physical love, while the relationship of Beatrice andBenedick represents an idealistic love. From the start of the play,discovers, after returning from war, that he is madly in love withHero and wishes to request her father for her hand in marriage. Theirrelationship starts off at love at first sight because they did notknow each other well, and this was risky because if Claudio knew Herowell he would not have to worry about the deceits of Don John. Whenhe is deceived into believing Hero was seeing someone else, he says“If I see anything tonight why I should not marry her tomorrow inthe congregation, where I should wed, there will I shame her” Thisshows that Claudio would seek revenge after Hero if she did somethingand not to forgive.
However, the relationship between Hero and Claudio is not strongbecause Claudio trusts no one in the love affairs. He says“friendship is constant in all other things, save in the office andaffairs of love.” He also says “and trust no agent for beauty isa witch.” The expression ‘beauty is a witch` implies that hethinks that one should not be deceived by the outward beauty of awoman. Nevertheless, in the beginning, he simply wishes to getmarried to Hero based on her beauty, and he acknowledges that she isa person separately from her beauty. This relationship plays asignificant role in connecting all the other themes and characters inthe play. Due to this relationship, Benedick and Beatrice rediscoverthemselves and express their true love to each other (Potter, 2012).
Potter, L. (2012). Othello. Shakespeare in performance. Manchester:Manchester UP.
Shakespeare, W. (2012). Much ado about nothing (Vol. 12). ClassicBooks Company.
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