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In both Othello and in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses the device of fateful...

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williamnoah | eNoter

Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:37 PM via web

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In both Othello and in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses the device of fateful mistakes to develop the tragic action. Can similar kinds of mistakes be said to happen in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), but to comic ends instead? Compare MacDonald’s use of this device with one of the “mistakes” in Othello.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 4, 2013 at 2:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Characters in Macdonald's work do commit mistakes reflective of tragic conditions.  However, there is an acknowledgement of these errors and an assurance to minimize these.  This acknowledgement and progressive nature is not evident in the Shakespearean constructions in which tragic flaws are simply that:  Tragic.  For example, Desdemona's propensity towards jealousy is a flaw that spells tragedy in Shakespeare's work.  It is a mistake of characterization that leads to events that exist outside of individual control at a certain point.   Yet, Macdonald shows that there can be intervening factors to minimize the mistakes of our personality.  Our errors in judgement do not necessarily have to be fatal when others are there to help.  When human beings understand the mistakes as a part of their nature and commit to fixing them or minimizing their destructive effect, good things can happen.  

Macdonald shows Desdemona's mistakes in instances such as becoming angry without limitations as well as her excessive jealousy. Yet, through Constance's interventions, Desdemona recognizes her mistakes and promises to fix this aspect of her personality.  For Macdonald, the help that others offer can help our progress as human beings.  In recognizing our own mistakes and faults, Macdonald suggests that errors do not have to be defining in an all encompassing manner.  Macdonald is able to embrace a complex and intricate understanding of human nature and redemption, a view that is limited in the tragedy of Shakespeare. Accordingly, mistakes can be part of a process of growth and evolution.  Mistakes are paths to self- actualization in Macdonald's work.  In Shakespearean tragedy, they are steps towards self- destruction.

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