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Professor number The two plays, Oedipus and Othello, separated by a period of several centuries, shall form the subjects of study of this paper. This paper seeks to look at the aspects of tragedy within both these plays and how the time-period between these two plays have affected the way tragedies are played out…
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Download file to see previous pages The conditions that shaped the plays of Sophocles shall also be looked into. These shall enable an exploration of the main concern of this paper, which is to examine the role of the agency of the tragic protagonists of these plays, Othello and Oedipus, in their own downfall. This shall include a reference to the ideas of free will and predetermination, a debate that had great political, intellectual and religious value during the Renaissance. How this contrasts with the pre-Christian world of Sophocles shall be looked into and these issues shall be incorporated into the main thesis of the paper. The paper shall thus, attempt a comparison of the two plays, Othello and Oedipus, by examining the social, cultural and political situations that shaped these plays. This paper shall thus, place both these plays in their contexts and try to analyze how the concept of tragedy as propounded by Aristotle undergoes a change in the intervening time-period. Othello and Oedipus: Agency and Fate Othello and Oedipus are two of the most famous characters in the history of tragedy. Timeless in their appeal, these two tragic heroes are as similar as they are different. In a sense, Othello represents the evolution of the tragic hero from a world-order that gave precedence to fate over the will of man, to one where he undergoes a fall as a result of his own actions. This signals a transition to a world-order where man is considered to be the supreme being, one where he is considered a being who is able to create his own destiny. Oedipus is considered to be the most perfect tragedy that has ever been written. In fact, it is by citing this play that Aristotle explains his theories regarding tragedy as a form of drama. Peripeteia, the tragic revelation that the tragic hero experiences at the climax of the play that sends him hurtling to his doom, is explained by Aristotle using examples from Oedipus, where he describes it as “a change from ignorance to knowledge, and thus to either love or hate, in the personages marked for good or evil fortune” (Aristotle 30). Peripeteia for Oedipus is preceded by inaction, an inaction that stems from an inability to change his fate. This is evident from the predictions that the oracle makes. As Harold Bloom points out, it is significant that the oracle does not merely predict that Oedipus would commit some heinous crime but specifies every detail of it. Harold Bloom warns against readings that see Oedipus as a free man, since that entails a neglect of the oracle’s warnings, which form a very important part of the plot of the play (Bloom 141). The oracle stands for the religious forces that controlled, and were controlled by fate. For Aristotle, these forces represent the “good or evil fortune” that he talks about in The Poetics. Fate for Oedipus represents a course of action that he cannot avoid, as is seen from the events in the play, where significantly, none of his actions have as a direct consequence the murder of his father, or incest. Oedipus's knowledge of the prophecy of the oracle too cannot mitigate the misery that fate holds in store for him. Ironically, it is the knowledge of the prophecy that leads Oedipus towards the land of his birth. Throughout the story of Oedipus, we see him being willed towards the ultimate outcome of the play without his knowledge of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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