To What Extent are ‘Othello’ and 'Oedipus Rex' Perfect Examples of Tragedy

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‘Othello’ was written between 1601 and 1603. It was first performed in the Elizabethan courts during the Christmas season. The idea of a ‘perfect’ tragedy is the idea that the tragedy is faultless; it does what is expected; so makes the audience feel empathy and sympathy for the characters who suffer. There are two different types of tragedy: classical tragedy and Shakespearean tragedy. The tragic hero in this play is the main character, Othello. Othello's misfortune comes about because of his jealousy, trust, and his pride. This essay aims to look at, and compare, how Shakespeare wrote his tragedy, and how other tragedies are written. I will mainly compare ‘Othello’, for Shakespearean tragedy, and ‘Oedipus Rex’, by Sophocles, for…show more content…
Unlike the other Shakespeare tragedies, which follow the common ideas for Shakespearean tragedy, ‘Othello’ includes some of the ideas from classical tragedies. Some of these include the downfall from high position – Othello goes from being the general, to being convicted of being a murderer. Innocent characters also suffer, like Desdemona. Othello accused her of being unfaithful, when she never was. He ends up killing her out of jealousy; when she does not deserve it.

As it was stated earlier, one of the features of a classical tragedy is that an innocent character suffers. However, it seems that this also appears in ‘Othello’, as Desdemona’s suffering is very prominent. In act 4, scene 3, Desdemona is talking to Emilia about all that she is worried about, and thinking about. One of the most emotional things that Desdemona talks about was her “mother had a maid called Barbary: / She was in love, and he she loved proved mad / And did forsake her” (4.3.25-27). She then has a premonition of death and requests Emilia, if she should die, to wrap her body in one of her wedding sheets, which are now on the bed, “If I do die before thee, prithee shroud me / In one of those same sheets” (4.3.23-24). Desdemona sings the “Willow Song,” and, in this indirect way, she faces the real possibility that Othello is going mad and will
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