William Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice

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Several authors have their specific approaches in the way they address the various issues of the society. Love is one of these sensitive themes that always forms a part of interests in any play. William Shakespeare, a famous play writer and novel author of the ancient times is one of the favorite writers who has shown exceptional approach in the way he brought out these themes in his play. He covers in broad specs the matter of how the society treats the issue of relationships and engagements. He goes deep into how marriage and love develop across the society, before narrowing into elaborating the correlation between the romantic relationships and the other social aspects of the society like hate, jealousy, and trust. All through his books, he brings to his reader's different topics in the society ranging from wars, comedy and economic activities, and blends them with this vital social part of life of every society. From his work, we can see a clear distinction between the contemporary occupants of the globe and the ancient generations in which he based his tales. For instance, unlike the current perception of our communities of romantic relationships as an ordinary subject that people get into and out of without any hard feelings or consequences, most of his books talks of it as a prioritized part of life with a particular interest in the way people engage with each other and relate romantically. In lieu to that, William Shakespeare converted the theatre platforms into a channel through which he educates the public of this vital part of life. Through his plays, many can learn in the theatres the moral parts that relate to this special topic. His plays in the theatre platforms also give an insight of the best approach that the public should give to such important matters of the daily living. However, William Shakespeare defines the issue of love, romance, and marriage in different ways all through his pieces, giving his readers diverse views of the same topic. Therefore, this article is a review of how he tackles it in the novels “Othello” and “The Merchant of the Venice.” The topic of love and marriage is represented in “Othello” as a volatile factor that ends up triggering emotions and negative morals among the people because it results to hate, jealousy and mistrust among others. On the other hand, the Topic of Love and marriage is enacted in “The Merchant of the Venice” as a source of unity and strong relations in such a way that it impacts the community positively.

To begin with, Love in the novel “Othello” is portrayed in a wider range than in “The Merchant of the Venice.” In the former, it ranges from the platonic, family, filial, sexual and even up to courtly love among many others. People feel deeply for friends, their professional partners and even some positions in the military setting, making them go extra level actions just for these loved ones or career positions (Shakespeare, 297). For instance, regarding the love from the professional position in the army, Iago salivates so much for a rank through the army ranks that he goes to the depth of hating and even intending evil from Othello for giving it to someone else. He is driven by the feeling of love for the position that he even forgets that his counterpart also deserved the same as much as he wanted it. When the Army supreme, Othello choose to promote Cassio into a position that Iago had wanted for a long time, it does not seem to go down well with Iago. It causes so much internal pain and anger in his heart seeing that Othello has favored Cassio instead of him. His love for the position soon turns into jealousy and bad intents to others after he misses the promotion, which he feels should have been his. Instead, Initially, Iago portrays fake love for both Roderigo and Cassio (Shakespeare 501). He pretends to be in love and great friends with the two until his wife stands out for the truth, which she ends up being killed for. On the other hand, the type of love that William Shakespeare brings on board in the novel “The Merchant of Venice” is more of the romantic interaction between people alone. There is no particular interest in non-human relations like love for something or a place like is the case with the “Othello.” Through identification of this varying concepts of affection in life, the readers or viewers of Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre can learn of different forms of love which they even did not know may affect their moral levels and care for others (Shakespeare 196). The “Othello” side also provides an insight of what the scenarios people may encounter and gives a hint on the wrong actions and the right ones regarding these situations to enable the readers to acquire exceptional responsive skills.

Moreover, there is also a point of difference concerning the topic of love and relationships between the two famous novels by William Shakespeare in the way friends relate throughout the plays. The two, “Othello” and “The Merchant of the Venice,” provide the reader with two parallel ideologies of how relating friends interact with each other, with those of the former displaying so much hypocrisy and deception while those in the next display some honesty and improved level of trustworthy amongst each other. For instance, in “Othello,” the friendship between Iago, Roderigo, and Cassio, there is so much hypocrisy from the side of Iago. Although he pretends to be a genuine love for his partners, he ends up betraying both of them and even making an attempt to destroy their relationships with their loved ones. He tries so much that he succeeds in hurting their trust for him. What he was unable to destroy was only the love that they shared with their lovers. On the other side, in “The Merchant of the Venice,” Antonio loves Bassanio so much that he cannot stop at anything. That is only one among the many true friendships that other characters shared throughout the novel (Shakespeare 385). Nonetheless, there were a few instances of negativity; the many suitors that come for a hand in marriage for Shylock’s daughter, Portia also emphasize ion the shortages of true love for others in the whole novel. Most of them only wanted her hand in marriage for the amount of wealth that she was dwelling in, and not because of feeling true love for her. However, the positivity of the friendships outweighed the negative side, making it clear that Shakespeare dwelled more on true love and friendship in “The Merchant of Venice” than in “Othello.”

Despite this many differences in the topic of love, romance and marriage topic among the famous novels by William Shakespeare, there are a few similarities on the same. However, the vital of all is the similarity in the way the intimate relationships between the two most loving couples in both the pieces. A good point of justification for this line of argument is evident in the case of Othello and Desdemona in the novel of “Othello” and the many parallel relationships between Bassanio and Portia, Lorenzo and Jessica and Nerissa and Gratiano. In “Othello,” Desdemona loves her husband so much so that she is not willing to blame her for any of the things that he does wrong to her. Their passionate feeling for each other has blinded her to her grave, and she is not willing to relent at any point. We see Othello criticizing her in a money scandal, later he slaps and mistreats her in public. She does not stop loving him for a minute. Later, she blames herself for the death keeping her intimate feelings loyal to her husband who in the real sense is the one to blame for all that. In that case, there is some level of some similarity where the lovebirds in “The Merchant of Venice” lead loving relationships that mostly end up in marriage. The center relationship between Bassanio and Portia end like those of their counterparts, Lorenzo and Jessica and Nerissa and Gratiano (Shakespeare 287). The marriage destinations show the full acceptance of the strengths and weaknesses of the partners to each other and loving with no boundaries like was the case with Desdemona. That brings to the readers the moral of patience and unlimited love even in the case of disappointments.

All, in a nutshell, there are only a few similarities in the way Shakespeare covers the thesis heading in his two novels, “Othello” and “The Merchant of Venice” and a plethora of differences. The comparison and contrast of these two pieces give an insight to a broader view by the writer to the audience, making them a source of moral lessons for both the good and how to embrace it and the bad and how to counter it. It is also clear that in the play “Othello,” the writer widens his interpretation for love from humanly feelings towards each other to the context of feelings for any other things in life that people feel attracted to, and which may affect their care and perception for others. Throughout that novel, Shakespeare also shows how love may transform into destructive emotions that drive men to evil; jealousy and revenge among others. We see that the Merchant of Venice side is more dominant with what looks like fare and true love for each other, most of which end in matrimonial interactions. The friendships are stronger and more trustworthy with little drawbacks. Also, it is clear that there is a little similarity in that, the main characters taking the role of romance in the two pieces show true intimacy and affection for each other, making them outstanding in the way they relate. Hence, it is right to conclude that, the topic of love and marriage is represented in “Othello” as a volatile factor that ends up triggering emotions and negative morals among the people because it results to hate, jealousy and mistrust among others. On the other hand, the Topic of Love and marriage is enacted in “The Merchant of the Venice” as a source of unity and strong relations in such a way that it impacts the community positively.

Works cited

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice (multi-User). New York: Lerner Digital, n.d.. Print.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. Minneapolis: First Avenue Editions, 2014. Internet resource.

December 12, 2023




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Othello Literature Review

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