Compare and Contrast How the Main Protagonists Experience Being Outsiders Within Their Respective Societies.

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Compare and contrast how the main protagonists experience being outsiders within their respective societies. The experience of being outsiders is explored by William Shakespeare in ‘Othello’, Emily Bronte in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Robert Browning in his Dramatic Monologues. Shakespeare explores the theme of alienation through a character considered an outsider by the society in which he lives in. Similarly Emily Bronte explores Heathcliff and the obstacles he faces at Wuthering Heights. Browning’s Dramatic Monologues illustrate the minds of psychotic lovers who are all possessive and delusional. In all the three texts the outsiders are rejected and are to an extent responsible for their own position in the society. While some are underprivileged others deprive and almost punish themselves for not being accepted. The characters within the three texts are undoubtedly affected by their ‘otherness’ and feel ostracised by those who surround them. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is an outsider because he is never accepted as part of the Earnshaw family. He is described as a “dark-skinned gypsy” and this prevents him from being acknowledged as a foster brother to Catherine and Hindley. Mr Earnshaw was the only character Heathcliff could trust, however Hindley began to terrorise and mistreat him which made him feel unwanted. He labelled him as a “beggarly interloper!” and an “imp of Satan”. However, the most eccentric aspect of Heathcliff’s character is his name. He is referred to as simply ‘Heathcliff’ and does not carry the Earnshaw’s last name, as he is not blood related. Furthermore the name Heathcliff is a name of a deceased son of Mr Earnshaw, therefore Heathcliff is seen as an inferior character who is deprived of a sense of identity. Similarly in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ the protagonist is a black military man, but unlike Heathcliff he is considered to be a noble and respectful soldier amongst the Venetian people. Othello seems to be proud of his heritage and his achievements and although he is a foreigner, he is seen as a useful character that can bring success to the city of Venice. From the beginning of the play he is referred to as a “moor” and “thick lips” by both Iago and Roderigo. This may suggest that Iago and Roderigo are simply jealous that an outsider can receive so much recognition from their own people. Both Othello and Heathcliff are labelled for their differences by characters that see no place for them in the community. Othello’s vocation is not the only aspect of his life that is envied by characters; his marriage to Desdemona evidently causes problems with her father, Brabantio, but also fuels Iago’s jealousy and hate. Brabantio accuses Othello of “enchanting” his daughter and using witchcraft to lead her astray as she would not have loved him voluntarily. It seems contradictory to allow Othello to fight the city’s sieges, but oppose his marriage to a Venetian woman. Othello’s marriage to Desdemona grants him a theoretical citizenship, where he would have to be recognised as a Venetian. Othello is a powerful figure within the society and it is patent that he favours it above any nation. In spite of this, Brabantio, and Iago in particular, feel that this is an invasion of their country. His ‘otherness’ impedes him from being an equal and although he is seen as a virtuous military leader, society would not accept his relationship with Desdemona. Likewise Heathcliff’s relationship with Catherine cannot be accepted by society, but unlike Othello, Heathcliff is not a respected or useful member of society thus society cannot tolerate someone they won’t benefit from. Robert Browning’s Dramatic Monologues illustrate the minds of characters that become psychotic and aim to possess their lovers. ‘My Last Duchess’ presents a manipulative and heartless Duke, who is completely made redundant by his wife. Browning presents the Duke as a character who lacks remorse and whose jealous nature introduce us to dark and...
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