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Female Betrayal in The Winter's Tale compared to Iago in Othello

Decent Essays
The Winter’s Tale and Othello, both by William Shakespeare, contain fantasies of female betrayal. In both play’s these fantasies are aggregated by something, be it Iago in Othello or Hermione’s pregnancy in The Winter’s Tale. Iago confronts Othello in act 3.3, eluding to his wife’s betrayal. Both Othello and Leontes have a seemingly sudden onset of jealousy. However, Othello’s jealousy forms later in the play than Leontes’. This is important when comparing the two because there are acts of the play showing Othello’s nature and character which do not point towards jealousy or concern for his wife’s conduct. Othello’s lack of jealousy, in the beginning, can be seen in act 3.3, line 188, “The smallest fear or doubt of…show more content…
Leontes’ first lines of jealousy seem to appear at line 109, “Too hot, too hot!/ To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.” Leontes says this aside in response to Hermione calling Polixenes a friend. In the footnotes of The Complete Pelican Shakespeare it is said that friend can also mean lover. Leontes goes on to ask Mamillius twice if he is his son. Leontes believes that this friendship could have already gone too far, where the line between friends and lovers is blurred. The mingling of blood is referring to the mixing of Polixenes’ and Hermione’s DNA to produce the baby with which she is currently impregnated. So this affair must have happened many months ago as Hermione is far along in her pregnancy. Leontes main concerns here are his pride and his power. Leontes need children to continue his families reign, a situation that becomes more dire once Mamillius dies. Leontes clearly had no thoughts of an affair before Hermione is able to convince Polixenes to stay, as Leontes tried to get Polixenes to stay before her. Then maybe Leontes jealousy started when Hermione proved herself more persuasive. This jealousy could stir not from the fear of matters of the heart but of the fear of Hermione’s ability to manipulate Leontes, just as he had seen her manipulate Polixenes into staying. Othello and Leontes have issues with trust. Othello trust to much
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