Comparison and Contrast Between Othello and Hamlet

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Shakespeare’s Othello and Hamlet
Comparison and Contrast
By Ankur Chauhan

Comparisons between plays can always be made; the question is, how useful are they? The core comparison that springs to mind between these two plays, Othello and Hamlet, is that these are both tragedies driven by character. That is to say, they all follow classically great men from great heights to terrible ends and deaths. Each man is in a situation where he is especially vulnerable. If these men swapped places, they might not have fallen so easily. As they fall, others fall with them, including those they love. When the great fail, entire sections of society fail.

William Shakespeare, in the play Hamlet, goes deep into the psychological afflictions of a man
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Othello says,

“My wife! My wife! What wife. I have no wife.
O, insupportable! O heavy hour.
Methinks it should now be a big eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that th’affrighted globe
Should yawn at alteration.” (Othello, Act V Scene II)

But, when he discovers that he has been tricked by his friend and comrade, Iago, he is overcome by remorse and kills himself. Othello asks before dying that they remember him for who he was, not, who he has become.

Just like Hamlet, Othello is based upon the passions that drive the main character to the brink of insanity. Othello’s love for Desdemona was so deep that he could not bear the thought of another man being with her. He felt insecure in his own position and this added to his insanity. Unlike Hamlet, who constantly has ghosts whispering in his ear, Othello must deal with the lies and accusations of Iago, which are albeit as good. Iago tells these lies with the intention of pushing Othello towards jealousy. Both the tragic heroes bare similar personality traits. Hamlet is jealous of his mother’s relationship with his uncle, the King, and Othello is jealous of Desdemona. Hamlet seeks revenge, but his insanity prevents him from acting. Othello seeks revenge, but his insanity makes him blinded to who that vengeance should be directed towards, and in his insanity is driven to murder his own wife, and then kill himself. In both the plays, Shakespeare is dealing with the
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