How can the conflict in Elie Wiesel's Night relate to society in Shakespeare's texts Macbeth and Othello?

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sarahc418 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


If we identify the conflict in Elie Wiesel’s Night to be the struggle for power, then it becomes easy to compare and contrast it to society in Macbeth and Othello. Elie Wiesel's Night, Shakespeare's Macbeth and Shakespeare's Othello all characterize the struggles of the victims of power hungry individuals.

In Night, the Nazi’s take power by fear and death. They ensure that their power will never be questioned by silencing all those they see as threats to their power. The external conflict in this story centers on physically surviving the concentration camps despite the Nazi soldiers need to physically convey their power through beatings and hangings. Consider Elie's struggle to cope in a world where the powerful authority denigrate him and emotionally and physically torture him. Elie's internal conflicts in this memoir revolve around how to exist spiritually and physically. Elie has dreams and desires; he has faith and hope at the beginning of the memoir. By the end of the literary work, he is devoid of those feelings of hope and desire. The Nazi soldiers strip him of these human emotions and leave him with just human survival instincts. 

In Shakespeare's Othello, there is a clear system in place to show who has power over whom. Yet, the players in this system are not happy with their positions. Iago, primarily, is frustrated by his position as ancient to the Moor. He hates the Moor, although his reason is never quite clear – perhaps because he thinks Othello slept with Emilia, Iago’s wife, perhaps because of his recent promotion or because he promoted Cassio over Iago. Regardless, Iago sets his mind to undermining Othello and will pretend loyalty but declares in a soliloquy “I follow him to serve my turn upon him.” In doing this, he lies to Othello about Othello’s new wife’s infidelity with Cassio. While doing this, he expresses concern for Othello saying “beware the green-eyed monster” when in truth it is Iago who is the monster to be wary of. Although the Nazi’s use physical power and fear, Iago chooses the route of lies and manipulation to exert his power.

Othello must, like Elie and the other Jews in concentration camps, struggle internally with an individual who wants more power. Through Iago's need for more power, he lies and murders. Iago pulls Othello into his web of lies in order to exact revenge. Othello, similar to Elie, is internally conflicted on how to act in order to keep his humanity and pride.


In Macbeth, Macbeth is the character who exerts his power and dominance in order to gain and preserve his power as king. He uses manipulation and lies with the help of his wife Lady Macbeth to kill King Duncan and take the throne originally. From there, he continues to lie and starts hiding things even from his wife. Macbeth tries to preserve good relationships with the other lords in order to keep suspicion away from him.

Banquo is one of the victims of Macbeth’s strive for power, and he is finally murdered. Banquo and Macbeth were good friends and good soldiers. They were favored by King Duncan and their futures looked good in the kingdom. Banquo’s good fortune was cut short by Macbeth who hired murderers to kill Banquo and Banquo’s son Fleance. Fleance survives.


tanioragreenland | Student

Thanks that helped a lot!