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To What Extent Do Any Two Texts, One Drama One Prose, Mirror Their Society

4767 words - 19 pages

If works of art mirror their societies, they reflect the burning issues of their societies. The historical backgrounds of the two selected texts: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy and Othello by William Shakespeare are key to the task at hand. In short, setting both in place and time plays a very significant role in answering this question. So the task at hand is to situate the selected texts within the context of their history, geography, intellectual and cultural struggles and then compare and contrast the themes raised by the two authors with the realities in England. Simply stated, this essay will relate the characteristics of a given era to the works of art produced.Othello, a tragedy, falls under England's Elizabethan and Jacobean era. The Elizabethan-Jacobean era stretches from 1580 to 1610. This period symbolized the time when Queen Elizabeth was in power in England, a period which marked the unfolding of the era of racism in Europe. A tragedy concerns the fall of a great man due to some flaw in his character. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a character of noble status and greatness. He is a man who is not entirely good or entirely evil. Rather he is a man who on the whole is good, but also contributes to his own destruction by some moral weaknesses, known as the tragic flaw.Aristotle further explains that the protagonist must be dominated by a tragic flaw which leads to his downfall. All tragedies have a hero with a flaw, and in the play Othello, the hero becomes transformed by his tragic flaws of jealousy and gullibility. Othello's central flaw is jealousy. His flaw is exploited by Iago and manipulated through many incidental events. Othello's boundlesslove for Desdemona makes it unbearable for him to think of another man looking at her. His fatal flaw, jealousy brews suspicion which resulted in his tragic downfall. Because of jealousy, he believes everything Iago tells him about Cassio and Desdemona.Perhaps a brief plot of the play may shed light on this discussion. The play Othello is a tragedy about the Moor of Venice written by Shakespeare between 1602 and 1604. The source of Othello is a story in Giraldo Cinthio's Hecatommithi (1565). Othello, a Moor but also a trusted Venetian general has secretly married Desdemona. His ensign, Iago, whom he thinks 'loyal' and 'honest' schemes against him, ostensibly because he preferred Michael Cassio as his Lieutenant. Iago prompts the foolish Roderigo to report the marriage to Desdemona's father, the Senator, Brabantio, who nevertheless has to accept the wholeheartedness of Desdemona's love when she appears before the Senate.The news of a planned Turkish attack on Cyprus requires Othello's departure there. He is joined by Desdemona, Iago, Cassio, and Roderigo. The dispersal of the Turkish fleet leaves Iago free to discredit Cassio, gain his place and insinuate that Desdemona has been indulging in an extra-marital relationship with Cassio. He secretly took a handkerchief Othello...

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