Compare and Contrast: the Downfalls of Oedipus and Othello

Topics: Tragic hero, Tragedy, Sophocles Pages: 4 (1228 words) Published: January 24, 2006
Compare and Contrast Essay: The Downfalls of Oedipus and Othello

Oedipus and Othello were both honorable and heroic men that became the victims of two tragic downfalls that can be compared and contrasted with each other. Sophocles, the writer of Oedipus the King, and Williams Shakespeare, the writer of Othello, were both enormously influential playwrights of their respective generations and their legacy continues today. The two playwrights made their masterpieces during different eras; Sophocles life coincided with the Golden Age of Greek tragedy and Shakespeare worked during the Elizabethian period. Despite being born about 2,000 years apart, their works are similar in that they could both describe and make the tragic downfalls of two distinguished men come to life. The downfalls of Othello and Oedipus can be compared and contrasted through their pride, tragic flaws, and fate.

Pride is a characteristic that generally has good connotations, but in the case of a tragic hero it only makes the downfall more tragic. Both Othello and Oedipus were very prideful men prior to their downfalls. They were men of extraordinary accomplishments and they each possessed the ability to be a good leader. Othello was an upstanding citizen who was known for his military success. He is somewhat of a mystical character because he came from a foreign land where he experienced adventures that astounded the Venetians. Oedipus was also somewhat of a Renaissance man. He, like Othello, was known for his military success, but his true pride came from his position as a wise and confident king of Thebes. Oedipus stated, "I Oedipus whom all men call the great." (Sophocles line 7) Each man's pride can be considered a catalyst and early stage to their respective downfalls, but in different ways. Othello, as a prideful man, thought it necessary to kill his own wife because she had not been loyal. On the other hand, Oedipus would not let the murderer of Laius go undiscovered,...
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