Comparison Between Sophocles` Oedipus the King and Shakespeare`s Othello

“The tragic figure is usually constructed according to a paradox: a king who is a fool and a brilliant mind whose intelligence is fatal. Tragic heroes are powerful, charismatic men whose uncompromising faith is themselves is coupled with an indomitable will. They are devoted to their own subjective vision of the world and their place in it, and this commitment, reinforced with pride or what the Greeks called hubris, bestows upon them both great strength and great vulnerability (Shakespeare xxxix).” Tragic figures may be described as idealists, adhering to an elevated standard of conduct both admirable and impossible to sustain, and expecting such commitment from those around them. Always, these men are absolutists, unwilling to bend their principles. “The tragic hero usurps the function of the gods and attempts to remake the world.”

Othello’s distinctive vision is both a product and a guarantor of his military career: he is the veteran leader impatient with failure, unwilling to waver between alternatives, accustomed to seeing things in black and white. Othello was flawed with his irrational jealousy

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Oedipus was obstinate, and would not listen to the sage advice of Tiresias and his wife and at the same time mother, Jocasta.. They are flawed because they are human, too. But Oedipus is a king out to cure the curse that is afflicting the people. Oedipus will cleanse Thebes by finding and punishing the murderer within the gates. His obstinacy might be better described as perseverance.

The tragic heroes Oedipus and Othello let the pride they own to control their own downfall by placing too much importance on the existence they have shaped for themselves. Oedipus, who blinded himself after discovering that he has murdered his birth father and wedded his birth mother, repudiates to accept the reality: he has truly accomplished his destiny because he is so swollen with pride of what he has achieved since he left Corinth.

Othello showed his pride by trusting the individuals closest to him and on no account would ever be disloyal to him because of his influential title as a General of the armies in Venice. Both characters example of hubris, or excessive pride, causes the fall of their lives, which ultimately leads to life-long sightlessness for Oedipus and mortality for Othello.

Unlike Oedipus, Othello is incapable to live with his tragic downfall. Not only does Othello’s hubris tolerated him to put trust on the only deceitful character in the play kill, but it also slaughters himself, and it rooted him to execute his innocent wife with his own hands. Othello believes that nobody would ever deceive him, until his lieutenant, Iago, starts introducing different views in his mind regarding his wife’s unfaithfulness.

Oedipus, on the other hand, is regarded as ironic since Oedipus is letting fate make game of him. It is difficult to see in what way Shakespeare was not allowing Iago to make game of Othello, if we say that Sophocles was making game of Oedipus. It is true that in Othello, there is not so much emphatic verbal irony as in Oedipus, but verbal irony is not essential, nor does it propose of this distinction suggest that is it. It is true that there is a difference between the natural situation of Oedipus and the artificial situation of Othello; but elsewhere the same critic finds the equally artificial situation highly ironical. Like Oedipus, Othello’s stubborn personality forbids him to see the reality. He unleashes savagery and is the victim of his own arrogance, blind to unfolding events.

Instead of trusting the woman who is closest to Desdemona, he trusts the man who is his next in line of command. Othello is unsighted by the covetousness Iago has plunked in his mind and this distrust is permitting him to look at the circumstances irrationally. Yet, even when Othello is set to kill himself, he is more disturbed with how others will give the impression of him once his life is over.

Because of hubris, he never wanted people to know that he murdered his spouse out of suspicion that was made-up by a green-eyed man. He desires people to judge that it was his affection and adoration that caused the unlawful death; that he loved excessively and not because he was certainly attempting to get even with his pride and rescue himself from apprehending he has lost all he labored so difficult to work for.

Oedipus becoming blind and having to live with the faults he did is a doom worse than death. A tragic flaw witness in both personalities is the quantity of hubris each one owns. Both characters had the chance to be a normal person not subjected to too much pride, and to be able to get by, but it was never good enough for both of them. Oedipus and Othello believed they could accomplish more than what was put in front of them and in the progression of becoming great men; they unluckily converged with death.

Oedipus and Othello showed by being a tragic hero that pride is not a dreadful and awful virtue when it is used in the right way. However, too much pride can destroy not only a life, but also the many breaths that bounded an individual. By placing too much importance on their existence, Othello and Oedipus are accountable for their personal downfall.