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What are the similarities and differences between the characters Othello and Oedipus? 

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saharm | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM via web

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What are the similarities and differences between the characters Othello and Oedipus?

 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:04 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that the comparisons are both very interesting.  A significant similarity between both heroes is that they allow their judgment to be clouded by personal emotion.  For Oedipus, pride becomes his undoing and for Othello, personal doubt and insecurity helps to unravel all that was good around him.  Both of them are accompanied by loyal and honorable women who suffer because of them.  Jocasta was loyal to her husband/ son until the revelations became too much to bear, taking her own life.  Desdemona, contrary to Othello's own fears, was above reproach as a wife, and suffered greatly because of him.  Finally, both have to deal with the chasm between the titles and respect afforded to them by society and their own understanding of identity as human beings.  In both dramas, we see that the titles conferred by society and political orders do not prevent the hollowness of individual character or identity from coming to the forefront of the surface.  Significant differences are present, as well.  Othello dies, while Oedipus lives.  I find this importance because one is able to die with their tragic condition, while another one is condemned to live.  The presence of children also changes dimensions significantly.  Had Othello and Desdemona had children, it is interesting to ponder how things would have been different.  It's difficult for Iago to hold so much sway over him if children had been present.

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