Othello and The Merchant of Venice

“The Merchant of Venice” and “Othello, The Moore of Venice” by William Shakespeare, conjunction features in the plays

“The Merchant of Venice” is a play by William Shakespeare considered to have been accomplished between 1596 and 1598 that at first was determined as a comedy but later on as the tragedy as one of the main heroes marked this play as a tragic comedy, the scenes of personal drama and fierce of the Shylock were the brightest in the play. “The Moore of Venice” is another famous play written by Shakespeare in nearly the year 1603. This play was determined as a tragedy though some scenes have features of the comedy. This is, probably, the core of the conjunction between two plays: the genre of each of them is inaccurate and inexact and shows the depth and versatility of the author in portraying of many-sided reality. Firstly, featuring characteristic details of comedy in “Othello” and tragedy in “The Merchant of Venice”, it is important to settle features of both genres. Tragedy is a play in which an uncompromising conflict of the personality is portrayed against some opposite powers leading to the death of the hero. And the comedy is the genre of drama in which characters and heroes are represented in the comic, fun, humoristic forms, comedy can also have features of the tragic comedy. Dramatic and tragic features of “The Merchant of Venice” are vivid, though it is determined as a comedy. An image and portraying of the Jew merchant Shylock is the essence and center of the tragic features in the play. Shylock is unhappy in his life as he is surrounded by hatred: he hates Antonio for his contempt to the Jewish people and Shylock’s way of life and profession ”“ merchandizing. Shylock tries to be wise and kind in the way of Antonio but he can not disguise his hatred, he gives him money in dept without interest but with a pledge ”“ in case of no return on exact date a pound of meat will be taken by Shylock from any part the body of Antonio. Antonio is delighted with the joke (which is dramatically happens to be an intention of the desperate Shylock). The friend of Antonio (Bassanio) has a presentiment about Shylock’s negative attitude and he asks not to agree on the deal as he understands the seriousness of the situation. Bassanio’s inner feelings are alluding to the dreadful and dismal determined intention of the Shylock and his inside tragedy. Shylock convinces Antonio saying that he will have no use and benefits from the meat. The tragedy of the Shylock reveals in his monologue when he says of the deep feeling of insult and outrage:

“He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? (”¦)
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge?” .

This inner monologue discloses the center of Shylocks drama ”“ he is insulted and profoundly disappointed and thinks he was laughed at. On this stage he is certain to revenge. Shylock’s daughter leaves him and in his reflections the merchant comes to the confirmed conclusion ”“ all the difficulties lie in his nationality. Tragic itself the problem of racism which is raised by Shylock who treats the division between nationalities in a dramatic way showing that there is no difference between people ”“ all of them are human beings : “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”. Shylock is not ill-tempered hero though becomes enraged due to an unhappy events in his life. Revenge takes the upper hand over him ”“ this is his personal drama, inner prejudice makes him miserable, depressed, feel sufferings and deep insult and internal division of people into those of Jewish and all other nationalities, though feelings are vividly exaggerated by Shylock himself.

The image of Shylock is tragic as his character is not flexible, he is conservative in his understanding of the life and thus can not understand his daughter, and is only terrified by her behavior of her spendthrift nature. Relationship of Shylock with his daughter supplements the scenes of tragedy. The daughter Jessica does not appreciate the past of her family (she exchanges the ring of her mother for the monkey) and this makes her father cursing and damning her. So, under such circumstances Shylock tries to find relief in the misfortune of another person (Antonio), on hearing rumors about Antonio’s loss. Shylock realizes that his dept will not be paid which makes the feeling of revenge brighter in his mind, more vivid, factual and close to reality in his intentions as even the law on his side. The revenge turns into mania ”“ Shylock enjoys his triumph in the court, becomes cruel, unmerciful, influenced by emotions rejecting the payment and ready to kill Antonio.

Comic elements in “Othello” are less impressive and vivid than the tragic ones in “The Merchant of Venice”. The main comic feature lies in the character of Othello, who is an embodiment of generous, courageous military leader, beloved husband in a combination with blind deep trustfulness and naivety in his attitude to his friends. His foolish trust makes him do absurd things, crying, giving oath of revenge.

Trustfulness is a comic element as such character is weird for the reader, it is surprising that such a strong-willed, courageous Othello can trust and believe as sincere as a child. Open-heartedness and ingenuousness ”“ are rare features that in the play lead to tragic consequences ”“ a murder. Othello believes Iago unconditionally and after the fight of Cassio and Rodrigo he clarifies details of a fight from “an honest Iago”. Othello is confirmed in positive and good-natured character of Iago thus removes Cassio from the post. Every hero in the play believes Iago ”“ this contributes to the comic of the drama ”“ both Desdemona and Cassio are touched by an advice of kind Iago who is sincerely express sympathy to the bud luck of others. Tragic events in the play are developing impetuously, but comic foolishness and trustfulness make contrast with tragic elements creating an authentic picture of human life when any dramatic event is not devoid of comic features and irony. Iago makes Othello jealous and he can not resist suspicion, he is immersed in his misery but still blindly believes only Iago who masterly shows insulted honesty, and as a friendly advisor, he convinces Othello in unfaithfulness of Desdemona and Othello gives an oath to revenge on the knees. Iago directs behavior of Othello and even makes him faint, convince that his wife is of a frivolous character. Othello is vividly fooled by Iago ”“ this is the core of the comic in the play. But the main genre is tragedy as this comic is covered with bitter fate of Moor and his wife. An absurd of the play makes the audience laugh though the deeply tragic plot and denouement of the play.

All in all, elements of opposite genres are noticeable in both plays making it possible to consider “Othello” and “The Merchant of Venice” as conjunctive pieces of the art in the work of William Shakespeare.

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