One of the reasons that the works of Shakespeare are so renowned is simply for the fact that he can beautifully create moments of happiness, sadness, glory, agony, misery, love, betrayal – and anything else which may fall in between (Krakauer 09). There are numerous situations in real life in which one person may fall deeply in love with another, but it will eventually turn out that it was never to occur in the first place. When it comes to Shakespeare, love is never meant to blossom in the plays Romeo and Juliet, and Othello.
In the very first act of Romeo and Juliet, for example, we learn that there is a feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Two households, both alike in dignity (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene) From Ancient grudge break into new mutiny (Act I Sc I). Romeo and Juliet fall instantly in love with each other. But, because of their families hatred, their happiness and youth are wasted.
Juliet receives a marriage proposal from Paris, and agrees that she will consider marrying him if she likes him. After falling in love with Romeo however – at first sight, she learns as he leaves that he is a Montague. She is struck with as much horror as he is after he finds out that she is a Capulet. It is just a little while later that Juliet delivers her famous speech: “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? …O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (Act II Sc II). Passion it is of course, but that contaminated term has in our day become helpless to express it. Purity would be the perfect word for it if the world had not forgotten that purity is simply Greek for fire (Krakauer 17).
Juliet later discovers that her father has arranged for her to marry Paris in three days. She refuses to do so, and her father is furious over the fact that his daughter is so proud and ungrateful. She then turns to her mother – but her mother refuses to listen to what she has to say. In desperation, she turns to the nurse for advice, and even the Nurse believes that Juliet should marry Paris, because Romeo was banished from Verona and is not likely to return. Juliet realized that everyone is against her, so she turned to Friar Laurence for help.
The Friar knows of a sleeping potion that Juliet would be able to use that would fool her family to believe that Juliet is dead. Juliet decided to use that potion on the very night that she is to wed Paris. When the family finds Juliet “dead’, the Friar says that they must arrange for a burial and carry Juliets body to the church.
After Romeo (then in Mantua) learns that Juliet is dead, he buys some poison and intends to kill himself in the vault where Juliet lies. Paris is in the vault when Romeo arrives, and he assumes that Romeo is there for evil purposes. The two men then fight a duel, and Romeo realizes that he has killed Paris as he falls. He then gazes at Juliet in her tomb, and swallows the poison after giving her a last kiss. He instantly dies, and Juliet wakes up shortly thereafter. After she realizes that Romeo is dead, she takes his dagger and stabs herself with it. It is then that the families reconcile – when it is too late. Statues were to be made in honor of the lovers. Cynics are fond of saying that if Romeo and Juliet had lived, their love would not have lasted (Krakauer 24).There is also numerous instances in Othello in which it is evident that love was never meant to blossom between Othello, and his wife Desdemona. Brabantio is the father of Desdemona.
He regrets the fact that he allowed Desdemona to marry Othello, who just happens to be a Moor. He realized that he would have rather let a unestablished man named Roderigo take Desdemonas hand in marriage. Othello is accused of using witchcraft on his wife, and it is said that he is probably abusing her as well. However, when Desdemona is questioned, she admits that she has fallen in love with Othello and married him on her own will. Brabantio is furious when he hears his daughters confessions, and he practically disowns her. He then turns to Othello, and says “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee” (Act I Sc III).
Then there is the notorious villain, Iago. He came up with a plan to make it seem like Desdemona was cheating on Othello with his friend, Michael Cassio. Iago feels hatred towards Othello because he passed him over, and promoted Cassio for a position. Iago also had suspicions that Othello may have been having an affair with Emilia (Iagos wife), and for that he wants get revenge on Othello. Shakespeare gives Iago an outward appearance of honest virtue and has Othello consistently call him “Honest Iago.” (Krakauer 56).
Iago has the tendency to be very convincing and manipulative. He manages to make money off of Roderigo by offering foolish advice followed by a great deal of logic. After much talk, Roderigo is even convinced to sell off his land, so he can have a lot of money in his hands to get the attention of Desdemona. It is safe to say that Iago is very much like the devil himself (Krakauer 62). This is evident in his soliloquy at the very end of Act I. He reveals to the audience that he wishes to abuse Othellos ear, and blacken Cassios name as well. Iago also tends to compare people to animals, such as when he says, “The Moor is of a free and open nature that thinks men honest that but seem to be so, and will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are.” (Act I Sc III).
Iago does indeed poison Othellos ears by convincing him to view the friendship between Desdemona and Cassio under a negative perspective. At a party, he gets Cassio to drink an excessive amount of liquor, which makes him drunk. At one point as Cassio gets in a fight with another person, Othello walks in, and Iago makes him take Cassios position away from him. Iago then goes over to Cassio and acts as if he is a friend to him. He tells Cassio to request Desdemona to convince Othello to give Cassio his position back.
Desdemona agrees to do so, but all in a very innocent manner. Since Iago has plagued Othellos mind with false thoughts, Othello gets furious everytime that Desdemona mentions Cassios name. He begins to suffer mentally, and has trouble sleeping, and begins to snap at Desdemona over the slightest things. Eventually, Othello smothers Desdemona, and kills her. Emilia discovers what has happened, and cries out till Iago arrives. She then reveals the fact that Iago is a villain, and Iago kills her. Othello realizes that he has made a mistake, and kills himself, and Iago gets executed.
The love stories in Romeo and Juliet, and Othello start off very nicely, but unfortunately end with tragic deaths.
Courtney from Study Moose
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