Compare Othello and Hamlet as tragic figures in William Shakespeares tragedies, "Hamlet" and "Othello".I'm having trouble with an essay. It's a comparative essay. I'm comparing the flaws in...

Compare Othello and Hamlet as tragic figures in William Shakespeares tragedies, "Hamlet" and "Othello".

I'm having trouble with an essay. It's a comparative essay. I'm comparing the flaws in Othello and Hamlet (the two main characters in "Othello" and "Hamlet". This essay is due Monday, and I would really appreciate it if I got some help and ideas on this topic.

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Hamlet and Othello begin their plays as good-hearted, ethical men with power, not aware of the evil lurking at the center of their personal worlds.

Each has a different source of power. Hamlet, a prince, is the hereditary heir to the throne of Denmark. Othello, a Moor, is a self-made solider who has risen through his own abilities and good fortune. He is older and more experienced than Hamlet. Hamlet, unlike the battle-hardened Othello, has been a student.

Hamlet comes quickly to a realization of evil in his midst. Early in the play he meets the ghost of his dead father. The ghost tells him he was murdered by the young Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. His father commands him to avenge his death. From the start, therefore, Hamlet perceives the corruption in the Danish court.

Othello, in contrast, begins the play on a happier note, marrying a younger woman he loves. He is unaware that Iago is plotting to destroy him. The play is thus filled with dramatic irony: the audience knows Iago is evil while Othello does not.

Hamlet and Othello have different flaws. Although much debated, the classic reading is that Hamlet suffers from indecision. Whether it is indecision or a rational need for evidence before he murders someone, Hamlet takes his time when considering revenge. Othello, on the other hand, suffers from personal insecurity: this very successful warrior is an older black man in a racist society who is not certain at heart that the young, beautiful Desdemona truly loves him. In both cases, the flaw gives the enemy an opening: Claudius realizes that Hamlet knows his secret and has time to plot against him while Iago manipulates Othello's insecurity.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major differences in the flaws of the two characters is that Hamlet is one who appears to be able to think clearly and see the problems around him and the falseness of Claudius, etc., but he lacks the ability to act on them.  He bemoans his inability to make a decision, to the point of even pointing out his inability to kill himself.

Othello, on the other hand, is duped severely by Iago and is completely unable to see the innocence of Desdemona or the scheming of Iago as he builds the illusion of Desdemona cheating on him.

They are similar in that Hamlet, considered a daring and dashing and intelligent figure is completely inept when it comes to action and Othello, whose warlike nature and prowess on the battlefield are no match for for the "intrigue" of life without warfare.  Both men are incapable of living up to their image.

qassas09 | Student

Hamlet and Macbeth are very much alike as tragic figures. A. C. Bradley summarizes the similarities of the two plays by saying they share “the fascination of the supernatural, the absence of the spectacle of extreme undeserved suffering, the absence of characters which horrify and repel and yet are destitute of grandeur.”

The two characters reach a state of depression that ushers them to a view life without any meaning. Based on this point, we understand their suicidal bent of mind. They lose interest in life and embrace death. Hamlet, however, is more speculative than Macbeth. He thinks too much on everything. Moreover, he is not a villain as Macbeth.

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