Othello & King Lear A Comparison

1210 words - 5 pages

SHAKESPEARE; Othello & King Lear - A comparisonIf Shakespeare was alive today it is certain that therewould be a lot written about him. We would read reviews ofhis new plays in newspapers, articles about his poetry inthe literary papers, and gossip about his love life and histaste in clothes splashed across the glossy magazines. Hisviews about everything under the sun, from the government tokitchen furniture, would probably appear regularly in thecolour supplements. His face would be familiar on televisiontalk shows, his voice well-known from radio broadcasts.There would be so much recorded evidence about his life andhis opinions that it would not be hard to write about him.Shakespeare, however, lived some four hundred years agoin the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when there was no tele-vision or radio, nor even any newspapers as we know themtoday. Although he was respected as an important person inhis own lifetime, nobody ever thought of writing about himuntil well after his death. And Shakespeare did apparentlynot believe in keeping a diary either. So it is largely byluck that the little evidence we have, such as the entry ofhis birth in the parish register, has survived at all.And yet, by looking carefully at contemporary pictures, byreading contemporary accounts, it is possible to get a goodidea of how the boy whose birth is recorded in the Stratfordregister of 1654 grew up into the man who wrote such famousplays still known all over the world, as we type.Imagery used in Othello and King Lear.In Othello and King Lear Shakespeare uses a lot ofimagery. The main image in Othello is that of animals inaction, preying upon one another, mischievous, lascivious,cruel or suffering, and through these, the general sense ofpain and unpleasantness is much increased and kept constant-ly before us.More than half the animal images used in the playOthello are of Iago, and all those are contemptuous orrepellent: a plague of flies, a quarrelsome dog, the recur-rent image of bird-snaring, leading asses by the nose, aspider catching a fly, beating an offenceless dog, wildcats, wolves, goats and monkeys.To these, Othello adds his pictures of foul toadsbreathing in a cistern, summer flies in the shambles, theill-boding raven over the infected house, a toad in adungeon, the monster`to hideous to be shown', OthelloAct III, Sc iiiline 107bird-snaring again, aspics' tongues, crocodiles'tears and his reiteration of`goats and monkeys'. Othello act III, Sc iiiAct IV, Sc iline 403In addition, Lodovico very suitably calls Iago`that viper', Othello Act III, Sc iiiline 265and the green-eyed monster`begot upon itself, born on itself',Othello Act III,Sc ivline 161, 163is described or referred to by Iago, Emilia and Desdemona.It is interesting to compare the animal imagery inOthello with that in King Lear. The plays have certainsimilarities; they were written near together (Othelloprobably in 1604, King Lear about 1605), they are the mostpainful of the great tragedies, and...

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