This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Comparing Othello And Volpone Essay

1285 words - 5 pages

Similarities in Othello and Volpone

    Upon reading Shakespeare's l604 tragedy, Othello, the Moor of Venice and Jonson's l606 comedy, Volpone, or The Foxe, a reader will notice both similarities and differences.  In both plays, we meet characters of "rare ingenious knavery." Indeed, Iago, Volpone, and Mosca are uncommonly similar in nature. An elaborate "con game" is practiced in each play through intriguing dramatic inventiveness. However, the focus of Shakespeare's tragedy is upon a noble and heroic figure; the focus of Jonson's comedy is upon a monster of depravity, a genius in crime.

Comparisons between these great plays continues to pale when Jonson's script is held up to scrutiny. Whereas Shakespeare's seventeenth century work in comedy would turn continually toward soft edges, romance, and the pastoral, mixing both the serious and the humorous, Jonson established a reputation as one of the major social satirists of the English dramatic tradition. In fact, Jonson's comedies establish the tradition of social comedy on the English stage. In Volpone, although the satire is ultimately moral, its immediate aim is mostly social or legal. The play unmasks the artificial features of respectability, exposing vice and the manipulations of hypocrites. To his credit, Jonson did not altogether excuse the imperceptiveness of the victims in the play. Jonson's central characters are among the early models of "anti-heroes," a term generally restricted to characters found in Dostoevski, Sartre, or Camus. The specimens dramatized in Volpone are not merely fools, but money-hungry, lustful, morally despicable knaves. Their names immediately suggest their depravity because they are identified with the world of beasts. Thus, the lawyer, Voltore, is named for the vulture, the deaf old Corbaccio for the raven, the violet Corvino for the crow, the parasitical Mosca for the fly, and the sly, scheming Volpone for the wily fox. This kind of deception continues to the purely comic characters of the subplot: the Knight Sir Politic Wouldbe, a wholly gullible social climber, is reduced to Sir Pol, the parrot; his wife, Lady Politic Wouldbe, chatters endlessly in the manner of the parrot; and the traveler, Peregrine, is named for a hunting falcon. Only Celia and Bonario escape animal imagery, but they are morally typed by their names (Celia means heavenly and Bonario means good-natured).

The wicked central character, Volpone, is incapable of either generosity or self-knowledge. He only fails in his greedy aspirations because of the tendency of vice to overreach itself. In the play, the mainly passive, virtuous characters are practically defenseless against scoundrels cloaked in propriety and skilled in legal dodging. The good-natured guardians of the law are dull-witted, and the true innocents, Bonario and Celia, finally escape only because the knaves ensnare themselves. If the laws of the state are vindicated, it is a hollow victory.

The comic ploy of...

Find Another Essay On Comparing Othello and Volpone

Comparing Othello and Romeo and Juliet

1123 words - 5 pages William Shakespeare, a poet and playwright wrote many tragedies of similar ideas of young people opposed to marriages. In the story of Othello, Desdemona’s father Brabantio always invites Othello over his house to listen to his stories. Brabantio never expected Othello to marry his daughter. Brabantio believes Desdemona is his property and she is only allowed to marry men that he chooses. Because Othello is a moor and not a Venetian Brabantio

Comparing Othello and The Great Gatsby

1202 words - 5 pages All tragedies eventually end in chaos; however, Othello and The Great Gatsby both begin with innocent characters thinking little about the possibility of disarray. During the climax of both works it becomes evident that the idea of order is doomed, inevitably leading to a bounding spiral of problems. The Great Gatsby and Othello both end in chaos because the protagonists, Othello and Gatsby are outsiders entering an ordered society. The actions

Comparing Othello and Oedipus the King

1420 words - 6 pages Oedipus the King and Othello are both plays in which are known for their dramatic tragedies. Oedipus the King is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed in 429 BC. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, which was written in approximately 1603. These two plays do a profound job at making sure the audience understands the background of the main characters, however, there are minor

Comparing Scar from The Lion King And Iago from Othello

1140 words - 5 pages To truly understand Iago and Scar we must first understand what evil really means. Scar from the Disney’s The Lion King And Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello both have very interesting stories where we can see why and how they are the bad guys. Scar and Iago both demonstrates the true definition of evil throughout both of their stories. I’ve always been taught that the bad guy always looses. This is certainly not true and especially

Comparing Iago from Othello and Voldemort from Harry Potter

1130 words - 5 pages In most works of literature there is an “evil” character that has conflicting interests with the protagonist. This issue may arise in multiple forms including, but not limited to, abuse and manipulation. In this paper we will be discussing the similarities and differences between Shakespeare’s character Iago from Othello and J.K. Rowling’s character Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. There are two kinds of evil, moral and natural

Interview comparing Oliver Parker's "Othello' and Tim Blake Nelson's 'O' to the original play Othello. Othello- William Shakespeare

1234 words - 5 pages Hello and welcome to the movie show. This week we have James Pearson, a recognised Shakespearean authority and critic to discuss two film adaptations of the Shakespearean play Othello. Oliver Parker's 1995 production and Tim Blake Nelson's 'O' will be the two films analysed against the original play. James, which do you think better represents Shakespeare's original intent?Well Paul, it would be very hard to decide because the target audience is

Is Othello to blame for his Downfall? - Year 12, AS level English Literature, Othello - Essay

930 words - 4 pages cuckold, Iago contrives the handkerchief scene whence Othello is fully satisfied of Desdemona’s infidelity. It is in this scene where Othello’s weaknesses are fully revealed; he is converted from his seemingly placid nature to being filled with jealousy and rage. Great Transformed too is the imagery which Othello uses to describe Desdemona. Originally comparing Desdemona with heaven, purity and angels, Othello begins to speak much more like Iago using

The Other in William Shakespeare's Othello

2741 words - 11 pages say besides, that in Aleppo once, / Where a malignant and turban?d Turk / Beat a Venetian and traduc?d the state, / I took by th? throat the circumcised dog, / And smote him ? thus? (V.ii.351-356). In this part Othello refers to a battle against a Turk, one of Venice?s most lethal enemies, actually comparing himself to an enemy of the Venetian state because of his dreadful act of murder. In finishing his speech, Othello refers only to his

Othello Essay

897 words - 4 pages "fool" for becoming his "purse" (1.3.360). He then proclaim that he is only using him to plan on his revenge for Othello because he thinks Roderigo is worthless to not get something useful out of him "if [he] would time expend with such a snipe" (1.3.362). With the utilization of a metaphor for comparing Roderigo to a woodcock and an idiot, it indicates that Iago thinks highly of himself for he thinks that "[his] own knowledge should profane

Othello Act IV Scene ii Reflection

611 words - 3 pages image of the “real” Desdemona, seeing only what he believes in, rather than the truth that is in front of him. Shakespeare uses ironic metaphors that express Desdemona’s supposed deceptive duality, to reveal the delusional effects that imagining and believing can have. When Desdemona insists on her fidelity, Othello demands that she swear it, because she, “Being like one of the heaven, the devils themselves Should fear to seize [her],” comparing

Can a single reading explain the meaning of "Othello" by William Shakespeare?

1713 words - 7 pages 20th century have given rise to Feminist readings which give voice to the play's three female characters as the true victims of society.Explain the Aristotelian reading, comparing the values brought out in Othello to its contextOthello's Aristotelian reading focuses on arousing an emotional response from the audience, sympathizing with Othello and his tragic circumstances. The play begins with the harmony of Othello and Desdemona's relationship in

Similar Essays

Comparing Othello And Canterbury Tales Essay

1065 words - 4 pages Comparing Othello and Canterbury Tales The use of manipulation and misleading for personal gain has proved to be successful for many people throughout history. Famous poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, and famous play writer, William Shakespeare, illustrate characters who possess these manipulating qualities in their personalities. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pardoner, from The Canterbury Tales, and William Shakespeare’s Iago, from Othello, are

Comparing And Contrasting The Chiaroscuros Between Othello And Iago

1784 words - 7 pages white flag that parades the virtues and value of the Moor” (Calderwood 54). He knows he is pure because his purity is reflected in his wife. Iago knows that he is opposite of Othello; he knows that he is a devil. He is continuously compared to the devil throughout the play, and most of the time, Iago is comparing himself to the devil, showing the audience that he is a truly evil character and that he accepts it. In his conversation with

Comparing Virtue And Vice In Utopia, The Bible, And Othello

881 words - 4 pages Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello The definition of virtue varies between cultures and societies. Utopian ideas of virtue do not necessarily agree with Biblical or Elizabethan England views, however, More’s "Utopia," the Biblical accounts in Genesis of Joseph and Jacob, and Shakespeare’s "Othello" all present the concept of virtue prevailing over vice. Although at times vice may appear to triumph over virtue

Comparing Othello And Wuthering Heights Essay

550 words - 2 pages The story of Othello and Desdemona in Othello is one that can be compared to that of the story of Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. In Othello, Othello is a Moor who works under the king and marries Desdemona. However, in Othello, Iago convinces Othello of Desdemona's unfaithfulness. In Wuthering Heights there is a love between Catherine and Heathcliff from a very young age. Catherine then falls in love with Edgar Linton, a