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Importance Of Being Earnest" Major Themes Manners and Sincerity The major target of Wilde's scathing social criticism

is the hypocrisy that societycreates. Fre !ently in "ictorian society# its participants comported themsel$es ino$erly sincere# polite %ays %hile they har&ored con$ersely manip!lati$e# cr!elattit!des. Wilde e'poses this di$ide in scenes s!ch as %hen (%endolen and)ecily &eha$e themsel$es in front of the ser$ants or %hen *ady Brac+nell %armsto )ecily !pon disco$ering she is rich. ,o%e$er# the play tr!ly pi$ots aro!nd the%ord "earnest." Both %omen %ant to marry someone named "Ernest#" as thename inspires "a&sol!te confidence"- in other %ords# the name implies that its&earer tr!ly is earnest# honest# and responsi&le. ,o%e$er# .ac+ and /lgernonha$e lied a&o!t their names# so they are not really "earnest." B!t it also t!rns o!tthat 0at least in .ac+'s case1 he %as inad$ertently telling the tr!th. The rapid flip2 flopping of tr!ths and lies# of earnestness and d!plicity# sho%s ho% tr!ly m!ddledthe "ictorian $al!es of honesty and responsi&ility %ere. 3!al Identities /s a s!&set of the sincerity theme 0see a&o$e1# Wilde e'plores in depth %hat itmeans to ha$e a d!al identity in "ictorian society. This d!ality is most apparent in /lgernon and .ac+'s "B!n&!rying" 0their creation of an alter ego to allo% them toe$ade responsi&ility1. Wilde hints that B!n&!rying may co$er for homose'!alliaisons# or at the $ery least ser$e as an escape from oppressi$e marriages.Other characters also create alternate identities. For e'ample# )ecily %ritescorrespondence &et%een herself and Ernest &efore she has e$er met him. 4nli+ereal men# %ho are free to come and go as they please# she is a&le to control this$ersion of Ernest. Finally# the fact that .ac+ has &een !n%ittingly leading a life of d!al identities sho%s that o!r alter egos are not as far from o!r "real" identities as%e %o!ld thin+. )riti !e of Marriage as a Social Tool Wilde's most concrete criti !e in the play is of the manip!lati$e desires re$ol$ingaro!nd marriage. (%endolen and )ecily are interested in their mates# it appears#only &eca!se they ha$e disrep!ta&le &ac+gro!nds 0(%endolen is pleased tolearn that .ac+ %as an orphan- )ecily is e'cited &y /lgernon's "%ic+ed"rep!tation1. Their shared desire to marry someone named Ernest demonstratesthat their romantic dreams hinge !pon titles# not character. The men are notm!ch less shallo%2/lgernon proposes to the yo!ng# pretty )ecily %ithin min!tesof meeting her. Only .ac+ seems to ha$e earnest romantic desires# tho!gh %hyhe %o!ld lo$e the self2a&sor&ed (%endolen is !estiona&le. ,o%e$er# the sordidness of the lo$ers' !lterior moti$es is d%arfed &y the priorities of *adyBrac+nell# %ho epitomi5es the "ictorian tendency to $ie% marriage as a financialarrangement. She does

not consent to (%endolen's marriage to .ac+ on the&asis of his &eing an orphan# and she sn!&s )ecily !ntil she disco$ers she has alarge personal fort!ne. Idleness of the *eis!re )lass and the /esthete Wilde good2nat!redly e'poses the empty# tri$ial li$es of the aristocracy2 good2nat!redly# for Wilde also ind!lged in this type of lifestyle. /lgernon is a hedonist%ho li+es nothing &etter than to eat# gam&le# and gossip %itho!t conse !ence.Wilde has descri&ed the play as a&o!t characters %ho tri$iali5e serio!s mattersand solemni5e tri$ial matters- /lgernon seems more %orried &y the a&sence of c!c!m&er sand%iches 0%hich he ate1 than &y the serio!s class conflicts that he !ic+ly smoothes o$er %ith %it. B!t Wilde has a more serio!s intent6 hes!&scri&es to the late278th2cent!ry philosophy of aestheticism# espo!sed &yWalter 9ater# %hich arg!es for the necessity of art's primary relationship %ith&ea!ty# not %ith reality. /rt sho!ld not mirror reality- rather# Wilde has said# itsho!ld &e "!seless" 0in the sense of not ser$ing a social p!rpose- it is !sef!l for o!r appreciation of &ea!ty1. Therefore# /lgernon's idleness is not merelyla5iness# &!t the prod!ct of someone %ho has c!lti$ated an esteemed sense of aesthetic !selessness. Farce The most famo!s aspect of Oscar Wilde's literat!re is his epigrams6 compact#%itty ma'ims that often e'pose the a&s!rdities of society !sing parado'.Fre !ently# he ta+es an esta&lished clich: and alters it to ma+e its illogicsomeho% more logical 0"in married life three is company and t%o is none"1. Whilethese 5ingers ser$e as sophisticated criti !es of society# Wilde also employsse$eral comic tools of "lo%" comedy# specifically those of farce. ,e echoesdialog!e and actions# !ses comic re$ersals# and e'plodes a fast2paced# a&s!rdending %hose impla!si&ility %e o$erloo+ &eca!se it is so ridic!lo!s. This tone of %it and farce is distincti$ely Wildean- only someone so s+illed in &oth genresco!ld com&ine them so s!ccessf!lly. Oedip!s ;e'6 Tragic Irony Tragic irony %as !sed initially in ancient (ree+ tragedy and later almost in alltragedies. Irony consists essentially in the contrast of the t%o aspects of thesame remar+ or sit!ation. / remar+ made &y a character in a play may ha$e onemeaning for him and another meaning for other character and the a!dience or one meaning for the spea+er and the other characters and another meaning for the a!dience. Similarly# a sit!ation may ha$e a do!&le significance in the sense hat a disaster may &e foreseen &y the a!dience %hile the characters may &eignorant of it. Irony heightens the tragic effect. Sophocles has !sed irony %ithstri+ing effect in his plays. <Oedip!s ;e'= is replete %ith tragic irony and is fo!nd in most of the speechesand sit!ations. There are many occasions on %hich the a!dience is a%are of thefacts %hile the spea+er is ignorant of those facts and some other characters# onthe other hand# present a contrast %hich lends an increased emphasis to a tragicfact or to the !ltimate tragic o!tcome. The proclamation of Oedip!s that he %illma+e a determined effort to trace the

m!rderer of *ai!s and the c!rse thatOedip!s !tters !pon the +iller and !pon those sheltering the criminal# possess atragic irony in $ie% of the a!dience>s +no%ledge that Oedip!s himself %ill!ltimately pro$e to &e *ai!s> m!rderer. Oedip!s proclaims that no ho!se inThe&es is to pro$ide shelter to the g!ilty man and that the gods %ill c!rse those%ho diso&ey his command. Th!s# %itho!t +no%ing the real meaning of his %ords#Oedip!s anno!nces the sentences of &anishment against the m!rderer andheightens the tragic effect of the disco$ery %hich comes to%ards the end of theplay. Oedip!s does not +no% that he himself is to &ecome the $ictim of thep!nishment %hich he is proclaiming &!t the a!dience +no%s it. In this contrast&et%een Oedip!s> ignorance and o!r +no%ledge of the tr!e fact lies the tragicirony. The scene &et%een Oedip!s and Teiresias is fra!ght %ith tragic irony thro!gho!t.Teiresias is the prophet %ho +no%s e$erything %hile Oedip!s does not +no%himself as s!ch. Teiresias %o!ld not li+e to disclose the secret &!t Oedip!s !ic+ly loses his temper th!s pro$o+ing the prophet to say %hat he ne$er %antedto say. Teiresias tells Oedip!s that he himself is the g!ilty man he is see+ing andthat he is li$ing in a sinf!l !nion %ith the one he lo$es. The impact of these %ordsis totally lost !pon Oedip!s. The charges of Teiresias enrage him and he ins!ltsthe prophet &y calling him a sightless sot sho%ing his o%n inner &lindness. /nirony lies in the fact that Teiresias# physically &lind# +no%s the tr!th %hileOedip!s# ha$ing normal eyesight# is totally &lind to that tr!th. There is irony alsoin the contrast &et%een %hat Oedip!s tr!ly is and %hat he thin+s himself to &e.To Teiresias he &oasts of his intelligence citing his past $ictory o$er the Sphin'.The terri&le predictions that Teiresias ma+es regarding the fate in store for Oedip!s also possess irony in the sense that# %hile %e +no% their tragic imports#Oedip!s treats them as the ra$ings of a madman. These predictions &ecomemore a%f!l %hen %e reali5e that they %ill pro$e to &e tr!e and $alid. Teiresias%arns Oedip!s that the +iller of *ai!s %ill !ltimately find himself &lind# an e'ile# a&eggar# a &rother and a father at a same time to the children he lo$es# a son anda h!s&and to the %oman %ho &ore him# a father2+iller and father2s!pplenter.E$en the )hor!s# ignorant of the facts# ref!ses to &elie$e %hat Teiresias has saida&o!t Oedip!s. Th!s &oth Oedip!s and the )hor!s are !na%are of the tr!th%hile Teiresias and the a!dience is f!lly a%are of it. Tragic irony is also fo!nd in the scene %ith )reon. )reon &egs Oedip!s not to thin+ him a traitor and not to pass the sentence of death or e'ile against him. B!tOedip!s &linded &y his a!thority and his anger sho%s himself relentless. Thissit!ation is ironical of the final scene %here the roles are re$ersed. ThereOedip!s &egs )reon to loo+ after his da!ghters# and entreats him to pass theorder of &anishment against him. )reon# &eing a moderate man# does not sho%himself !nrelenting in that scene. The pathos of the final scene is intensified. Then there is the scene %ith .ocasta. Oedip!s and .ocasta are ignorant of thetr!e facts. The a!dience# a%are of the facts# e'periences a deep sorro% at thefate %hich is going to o$erta+e these characters. .ocasta is sceptical of oracles.She thin+s no man possesses the secret of di$ination and as a proof she tells%hat she and her h!s&and did to the child# %ho# according to the oracle# %as to+ill his father. There is palpa&le irony in .ocasta>s !n&elief in oracles and her citing as proof the $ery case %hich is to pro$e the tr!th

of one oracle recei$ed &yher and the late *ai!s. This irony deepens .ocasta's tragedy. There is irony also in the acco!nt of his life %hich Oedip!s gi$es to .ocasta.Oedip!s thin+s himself to &e the son of 9oly&!s and Merope6 he fled from)orinth after the oracle had told him of the crimes he %o!ld commit6 he has allalong &een !nder the impression that he has a$oided committing the crimesforetold &y the oracles. B!t all the time Oedip!s has &een !n+no%inglyperforming certain actions leading to the f!lfillment of those $ery prophecies%hich he had &een stri$ing to &elie# j!st as ?ing *ai!s had earlier ta+endesperate &!t f!tile meas!res to pre$ent the f!lfillment of the prophecy %hich has&een comm!nicated to him &y the oracle. When the )orinthian messenger &rings the ne%s of 9oly&!s> death# .ocasta getsanother chance to moc+ at the oracles %itho!t reali5ing that her moc+ery %ill t!rnagainst herself. <Where are yo! no%# di$ine prognostication@= .ocasta tells Oedip!s that this ne%s pro$es the hollo%ness of oracles &eca!se9oly&!s %hom Oedip!s &elie$ed to &e his father has died a nat!ral death. Thereis irony also in the simple remar+ of the messenger that .ocasta is the <tr!econsort= of a man li+e Oedip!s. Aeither the messenger nor .ocasta +no%s thea%f!l meaning of these %ords. .ocasta ma+es an e'!ltant speech on thedesira&ility of li$ing at random and on mother marrying as merely a figment of theimagination. .ocasta ma+es this speech only a fe% moments &efore the tr!thda%ns !pon her. The )orinthian# %ho %anted to free Oedip!s of his fear of marrying his mother# ends &y re$ealing# !n+no%ingly# the fact that .ocasta'sh!s&and# Oedip!s# is really her son# altho!gh this re$elation is at this stageconfined to .ocasta. The tragic irony of this sit!ation and in %hat is said &y the)orinthian and .ocasta in this scene is e$ident. The song of the )hor!s# after .ocasta has left in a fit of grief and sorro%# is f!ll of tragic irony. The )hor!s there&y pays a tri&!te to %hat it thin+s to &e the di$ineparentage of Oedip!s. There is a &ig contrast &et%een this s!pposition of the)hor!s and the act!al reality. The arri$al of the The&an shepherd is the point at%hich the clima' of the tragedy is reached. /fter the disco$ery there is hardly any room for tragic irony. The concl!ding partconsists of a long acco!nt of the self2m!rder and the self2 &linding# a dialog!e&et%een Oedip!s and the )hor!s# and a scene &et%een Oedip!s and )reonincl!ding the &rief lament &y Oedip!s on the %retched condition of his da!ghters.The concl!ding portion of the play is deeply mo$ing and poignant# &!t containslittle or no tragic irony. Oedip!s ;e' &ristles %ith tragic irony. It opposes Oedip!s against those %ho+no% i.e. Teiresias. Where characters themsel$es are not omniscient# thea!dience is. The a!dience +no%s the gist of the story and can &e s!rprised onlyin the means &y %hich the necessary ends are achie$ed. They +no% thatOedip!s is# in all sincerity# telling a falsehood %hen he says6 <I shall spea+# as a stranger to the %hole !estion and stranger to the

action.= The falsehood is# ho%e$er# !alified in the term stranger6 the stranger %ho metand +illed ?ing *ai!s# %ho met and married B!een .ocasta# the stranger %ho%as no tr!e stranger at all. /t the o!tset# he says6 <For I +no% %ell that all of yo! are sic+# &!t tho!gh yo! are sic+# there>s none of yo! %ho is so sic+ as I.= ,ere he is# indeed# spea+ing the tr!th# &!t more tr!th# than he +no%s# &eca!sehe is !sing sic+ness only in a sym&olic sense %hile act!ally it is tr!e of him in aliteral tense. In addition to this irony of detail# there is a larger irony in the in$ersion of the%hole action. The homeless %anderer &y deli$ering the city of The&es from thesphin' and marrying .ocasta &ecame a ?ing in fact# &!t this re$elation t!rnedhim once more into a homeless %anderer# %ho had once gone &right eyed %ithhis strong tra$eller>s staff# no% !ses the staff to feel the %ay &efore him. The re$ersed pattern is seen again in the fact that the cr!el oracles ha$e their dar+est moment j!st &efore they come clear. .ocasta>s %ords moc+ing theprophecy of the gods are echoed and amplified in Oedip!s> typical tyrant2speechof !n&elief. The role of the helpers is another e'ample. Sophocles pro$ides atleast one helper# or resc!er# for e$ery act. The appeal in the prolog!e is toOedip!s# himself a resc!er in the past. Oedip!s appeals to )reon %ho comesfrom and represents /pollo and 3elphi. It is as a resc!er that Teiresias is called..ocasta inter$enes to help. So does the )orinthian messenger# and the lasthelper# the The&an shepherd# is the tr!e and original resc!er. Those %ho do not +no% the reality are eager to helpthose %ho +no% are rel!ctant. B!t all helper ali+e p!sh Oedip!s o$er the edge into disaster.

Oedip!s ;e'6 ;ole of )hor!s


(ree+ tragedy is said to de$elop itself from the gro!p of dancers and singers %ho!sed to parta+e in the %orship of $ario!s gods. /ccording to /ristotle the )hor!ssho!ld &e li+e one of the characters. (rad!ally the role of the )hor!s &ecameless and less important in classical tragedy# !ntil in ;oman tragedy the speechesof the )hor!s %ere s!pposed to &e made in &et%een the acts. )hor!s discharges some &road f!nctions in all classical tragedies. The str!ct!reof a (ree+ tragedy is determined &y the )hor!s. /fter the prolog!e# it is %ith theentry of the )hor!s that a (ree+ tragedy &egins. "ario!s episodes are alsomar+ed off &y choric odes. The concl!sion of a (ree+ tragedy occ!rs %ith thee'ode or the e'it song of the )hor!s. It is the f!nction of the )hor!s to commenton actions and e$ents. It also sometimes !estions the characters. Its standardrole is that of the moderator. /t times it represents the $ie%2point of the commonspectator and in some cases it represents the $ie%2point of the dramatist himself. The f!nctions of the )hor!s are $ery %ell performed in Oedip!s ;e'. In the

$eryfirst ode the )hor!s depicts the horror of the plag!e and e'presses anapprehension a&o!t the message from the oracle of 3elphi. Other odes commenton the action that has ta+en place after the last ode and &!ild an atmosphereappropriate to that stage of the play. It plays the role of a peace2 ma+er &et%eenthe +ing and )reon and s!cceeds in getting the +ing>s pardon for the latter. /fter the e'it of Teiresias it comments on the terri&le predictions %hich Teiresias hasmade &!t sho%s determination to s!pport the +ing. Its most significant responseis %hen Oedip!s and .ocasta ha$e e'pressed irre$erent tho!ghts against theoracles. /t many other times also they reflect the dominant mood and help todeepen it. When Oedip!s imagines that he is the son of the goodness of l!c+# the)hor!s# immediately sing that their master# Oedip!s# might &e the son of /pollo. In the fifth or last choric ode in Oedip!s ;e'# the )hor!s reflects the dejection of Oedip!s and says that all the generations of moral man add !p to nothing. Thisode m!st not &e regarded as reflecting the final mood and impression of the play#for the impression is as m!ch of the greatness of the h!man spirit as of theinsignificance of man and the transitoriness of his happiness. This ode m!st#therefore# &e loo+ed !pon only as reflecting a final j!dgment of it. Oedip!sremains forcef!l e$en in his do%nfall- in a sense he is still heroic. The )hor!s ta+es part in the dialog!es also. When Oedip!s cons!lts them a&o!tending the plag!e in the city# they e'press disappointment that the oracle had notg!ided them a&o!t the identity of *ai!s> m!rderer. They also tell him %hat they+no% a&o!t the m!rder of their pre$io!s +ing and its circ!mstances. When)reon# learning that the +ing has acc!sed him of treason# comes on the stage hetal+s to the )hor!s# %ho tell him that the +ing>s acc!sation %as pro&a&ly made inthe heat of anger. )reon as+ed if the +ing loo+ed a&sol!tely serio!s %hile ma+ingthe charge and they rightly say that it is not for them to loo+ into the eyes of hismaster %hen he spea+s. When Oedip!s has almost passed a sentence !pon)reon# .ocasta arri$es on the scene and first tal+s to the )hor!s. They re !esther to settle the difference &et%een the t%o men. They are %orried %hen theysee .ocasta going into the palace in a $ery dejected mood# and they gi$ee'pression to their apprehension. Oedip!s as+s them a&o!t the shepherd %hoga$e the infant to the )orinthian# they ans%er that his !een %o!ld &e a&le toans%er the !estion &etter. They sympathi5e %ith Oedip!s %hen they see himafter he has &linded himself. It is clear# th!s# that the )hor!s ne$er ta+es a directhand in the action. It does not consist only of spectators &!t infl!ences the actionin $ario!s s!&tle %ays. The contri&!tion of the )hor!s in Oedip!s ;e' is considera&le. They lin+ the play%ith common h!manity. In some sense they are often in the position of the idealspectator. They fill in the gaps in the action %hen no other character is there onthe stage. They add to it the element of melody %hich m!st ha$e &een one of theattractions of (ree+ tragedy. They pro$ide an appropriate shift &et%een thetitanic# heroic fig!re of Oedip!s and the mass of common h!manity represented&y the t%o shepherds in Oedip!s ;es. The tragedy of Oedip!s and its rele$anceto common life is $ery %ell stressed &y the )hor!s in its e'it ode or e'ode.

Oedip!s ;e'6 ,amartia

/ccording to /ristotle# a tragic hero is a disting!ished person occ!pying a highposition or ha$ing a high stat!s in life and in $ery prospero!s circ!mstancesfalling into misfort!ne on acco!nt of a <hamartia= or some defect of character. ,esho!ld &e good or fine man tho!gh not perfect. There is nothing to aro!se thefeelings of pity or fear in seeing a &ad character pass from prosperity intomisfort!ne %hile the r!in of a man %ho represents near2perfection in the moralsense is rep!gnant and horri&le. The tragic hero is neither a moral paragon nor asco!ndrel. ,e sho!ld &e tr!e to type# and consistent or tr!e to himself. /ristotle%o!ld attri&!te disaster or catastrophe in a tragedy to an error rather than adeli&erate crime. The main re !irements of /ristotle in regard to the tragic hero are th!s 071 high social standing# 0C1 moral e'cellence or goodness# and 0D1 some fa!lt of character# or error committed &y the hero in ignorance. Oedip!s ans%ers to allthese re !irements. Oedip!s is a man of royal &irth- he is &ro!ght !p &y a ?ingand a B!een and he himself after%ards &ecomes a ?ing and marries a B!een.,e is th!s a man of social eminence and possessing e'cellent !alities of character# tho!gh his is &y no means perfect. We cannot say that his misfort!neis d!e to any defect in his character# tho!gh his defects do prod!ce theimpression that s!ch a man m!st pay for his defects. It %o!ld &e %rong to saythat he is a p!ppet in the hands of fate. Within certain limits he is a free agent#tho!gh it m!st &e recogni5ed that the prophecy of the oracle %o!ld yet ha$e&een f!lfilled. Oedip!s is a good +ing# a great %ell %isher of his people# a man of integrity# anhonest and great administrator and an o!tstanding intellect. ,e is a pio!s man%ho &elie$es in oracles# respects the &onds of family# and hates imp!rity. ,is&elief in the prophecies of gods is the $ery &asis of the %hole play. The s!ppliantpeople approach him almost as a god and he is hono!red as a sa$io!r. When)reon re$eals the ca!se of the city>s s!ffering# Oedip!s declares his resol$e totrac+ do%n the criminal and he !tters a terri&le c!rse !pon him. We can say thatOedip!s is almost an ideal ?ing. ,e also sho%s himself as a de$oted h!s&andand a lo$ing father. ,e sho%s d!e consideration for the opinions and feelings of .ocasta and he la$ishes all his affection on his da!ghters. ,is relations %ith the)hor!s are also $ery cordial and he sho%s all d!e co!rtesy to them. In short &othas a man and as a +ing Oedip!s is %orthy of high respect. ,o%e$er# Oedip!s has his fa!lts. ,e is hot2tempered# hasty in his j!dgment#pro!d of his intelligence# and random in his decisions. ,e !ic+ly loses histemper %hen he finds the prophet rel!ctant to re$eal the things that he +no%s.,e j!mps to the concl!sion that Teiresias and )reon ha$e hatched a conspiracyagainst him. This attit!de of distr!st to%ards the prophet is in sharp contrast toOedip!s>s gen!ine piety. Oedip!s &elongs to the %orld of politics and h!manstandards rather than to the di$ine order of the %orld. ,is piety fails also later on%hen# !nder the infl!ence of .ocasta# he &ecomes some%hat s+eptical regardingthe oracle. /n o!tstanding feat!re of Oedip!s>s character is an inherent feeling of pride inhis o%n %isdom. Beca!se of this arrogance# Oedip!s certainly alienates some of o!r sympathy. When self2confidence ta+es the form of pride# ha!ghtiness#arrogance or insolence# it &ecomes disg!sting and o&no'io!s. ,is attit!de of intolerance to%ards &oth Teiresias and )reon and his highly offensi$e andins!lting %ords to &oth of them create in !s the

impression that he is pa$ing the%ay for his o%n do%nfall. Of co!rse# Oedip!s has already committed the crimes%hich ma+e him a sinner in the eyes of the god# in his o%n eyes# and in the eyesof other people. B!t the tragedy lay in disco$ery that he is g!ilty of them. If thecrimes had remained !n+no%n there %o!ld hardly ha$e &een any tragedy.Tragedy comes %ith the fact for disco$ery &oth for .ocasta and himself It %o!ld &e a fla% in the logic to say that Oedip!s s!ffers &eca!se of his sin of pride# &!t his pride is not the direct ca!se of his tragedy. ,e tried to a$oid thef!lfillment of the prophecies made &y oracle. ,e +illed his father and married hismother. ,is tragedy is a tragedy of error. If he had &een a little more caref!l#things %o!ld ha$e ta+en a different shape. ,e might ha$e a$oided the !arrel onthe road if he had not &een so pro!d or hot2 tempered- and he might ha$e ref!sedto marry a %oman old eno!gh if he had not &een &linded &y the pride of hisintelligence in sol$ing the riddle of the Sphin'. B!t# then# the prophecies of theoracle %o!ld ha$e &een f!lfilled in some other %ay# &eca!se nothing co!ld ha$e&een pre$ented their f!lfillment. 9ride has little to do %ith Oedip!s>s +illing hisfather and marrying his mother. If Oedip!s had not relentlessly p!rs!ed his in$estigations# he might ha$e &eenspared the shoc+ of disco$ery. Something in him dri$es him for%ard on the roadto disco$ery. /fter Teiresias has first ref!sed to tell him anything and then !tteredsome frightening prophecies. Oedip!s is disco!raged &y .ocasta to contin!e hisin$estigations. B!t he pays no heed to her philosophy of li$ing at random. Shema+es another effort to stop his in$estigations %hen she has herself reali5ed thetr!th# &!t again she failed. The The&an shepherd too tries# &!t in $ain. It is thisinsistence on the tr!th that leads to the disco$ery in %hich lies the tragedy. Wemay interr!pt this insistence on the tr!th as a form of pride# the pride of intellect#or the pride of +no%ing e$erything. The lin+ of ca!se and effect is !nmista+a&le&et%een Oedip!s>s pride of intellect and Oedip!s>s disco$ery for his sins. B!tthere is no strong lin+ &et%een his pride and the act!al committing of his sins&eca!se the sins %o!ld ha$e &een committed in any case# if the oracle %as to &ef!lfilled. The oracle did say that Oedip!s %o!ld &e g!ilty of those crimes &!t nooracle said that Oedip!s m!st disco$er the tr!th. Oedip!s is th!s an a!thentic tragic hero in the /ristotelian sense &eca!se histragedy is as m!ch d!e to his o%n initiati$es in disco$ering the tr!th as toe'ternal circ!mstances. To the modern mind# a high social position is notnecessary for the tragic hero nor do they recogni5e the $alidity of oracles too. In Oedip!s %e see the helplessness of man in the face of the circ!mstances andhis essential greatness. The manner in %hich Oedip!s &linds himself after reali5ing his g!ilt and in %hich he end!res his p!nishment raise him high in o!r esteem. The spirit of Oedip!s remains !ncon !ered e$en in his defeat and thatis the essential fact a&o!t a tragic hero.

Oedip!s ;e'6 )haracter is 3estiny


<Oedip!s ;e'= is a tragedy of fate. The cr!cial e$ents in the play ha$e &een pre2 determined &y fate or the gods. Man seems helpless facing the circ!mstances%hich mo!ld his destiny. ?ing *ai!s %as told that his o%n

son &y .ocasta %o!ld+ill him. *ai!s did e$erything possi&le to pre$ent s!ch a disaster. Once .ocastaga$e &irth to a son# *ai!s had him chained and handed him o$er to a tr!st%orthyser$ant %ith strict orders that the child &e e'posed on. Mt. )ithaeron and allo%edto perish. B!t the ser$ant# o!t of compassion# handed o$er the child to a)orinthian shepherd %ho passed him on to the )orinthian ?ing. The child gre%!p as the son of the ?ing and B!een of )orinth and later +illed his tr!e father#*ai!s# in complete ignorance. /pollo>s oracle %as f!lfilled e$en tho!gh *ai!s and.ocasta too+ the e'treme step to escape the fate foretold &y the oracle. Oedip!s had also to s!&mit to the destiny %hich /pollo's oracle prono!nced for him. ,e learnt from the oracle that he %o!ld +ill his o%n father and marry his o%nmother. ,e# too# tried his !tmost to a$ert a terri&le fate and fled from )orinth. ,is%anderings too+ him to The&es# %here people %ere facing a great misfort!ne.?ing *ai!s had &een +illed and the city %as in the grip of the Sphin'# %ho %asca!sing a lot of destr!ction &eca!se no&ody %as a&le to sol$e her riddle.Oedip!s sol$ed the riddle and p!t an end to the monster. Oedip!s %as joyf!llyrecei$ed &y The&an people as their ?ing and %as gi$en *ai!s>s %ido% as his%ife. Th!s# in complete ignorance of the identity of his parents# he +illed hisfather and married his mother. ,e performed these disastro!s acts not only!n+no%ingly# &!t as a res!lt of his efforts to escape the cr!el fate %hich theoracle at had comm!nicated to him. It is e$ident that the occ!rrences %hich &ring a&o!t the tragedy in the life of *ai!s# Oedip!s# and .ocasta are the %or+ of that mysterio!s s!pernat!ral po%er called fate or destiny or &e gi$en the name of /pollo. This s!pernat!ral po%er had pre2determined certain tragic e$ents and e$en informed the h!man &eings inad$ance. These h!man &eings ta+e %hate$er meas!res# to a$ert those e$ents-and yet things t!rn o!t e'actly as they had &een foretold &y the oracles. Oedip!shas done nothing at all to deser$e the fate %hich o$erta+es him. Aor do *ai!sand .ocasta deser$e the fate they meet. /ccording to /ristotle the tragic hero is a prospero!s man %ho falls intomisfort!ne d!e to some serio!s defect or hamartia. Ao do!&t that Oedip!s is ana&le r!ler# a father of his people# a great administrator and an o!tstandingintellect. ,is chief care is not for himself &!t for the people of the State. Thepeople loo+ !pon him as their sa$ior and %orshipped him. ,e is also a religio!sman in the orthodo' sense. That s!ch a man sho!ld meet the sad fate is!n&eara&ly painf!l to !s. Oedip!s is not# ho%e$er# a perfect man or a perfect ?ing. ,e does s!ffer from ahamartia or a defect of character. ,e is hot2tempered# rash# hasty in j!dgments#easily pro$o+ed and some%hat ar&itrary. Tho!gh in the &eginning his attit!deto%ards Teiresias is one of re$erence# he !ic+ly loses his temper and spea+s tothe prophet in an ins!lting manner acc!sing &oth him and )reon of treason and sho%ing a &lind s!spicion to%ards friends. ,is position and a!thority seem to &eleading him to &ecome a tyrant. )reon has to remind him that the city does not&elong to him alone. E$en %hen &linded he dra%s the reproach6 <3o not cra$e to &e master in e$erything al%ays.=

/ll this sho%s that Oedip!s is not a man of a fla%less character# not completelyfree from fa!lts# not an em&odiment of all the $irt!es. ,is pride in his o%n %isdomis one of his glaring fa!lts. ,is s!ccess in sol$ing the riddle of the Sphin' f!rther de$eloped his inherent feeling of pride. There is in him a fail!re of piety e$en.4nder the infl!ence of .ocasta# he gro%s sceptical of the oracles. Th!s there is inhim a lac+ of tr!e %isdom %hich too+ him on the $erge of &ecoming an impio!styrant. If Oedip!s had not &een hot2tempered# he might not ha$e got entangled in a fighton the road and might ha$e not &een g!ilty of m!rdering his father. Similarly# if hehad &een a little more ca!tio!s# he might ha$e hesitated to marry a %oman oldeno!gh to &e his mother. /fter all there %as no comp!lsion either in the fight or inhis marriage. Both his acts may th!s &e attri&!ted to his o%n defects of character. /ll at once it has to &e accepted that the decree of the oracles %ereinescapa&le. E$en if Oedip!s had ta+en the preca!tions# the prophecy %as to &ef!lfilled. The oracle>s prediction %as !nconditional- it did not say that if Oedip!sdid s!ch and s!ch a thing he %o!ld +ill his father and marry his mother. Theoracle simply said that Oedip!s %o!ld +ill his father and marry his mother. Whatthe oracle said# %as &o!nd to happen. If Oedip!s is the innocent $ictim of inescapa&le doom# he %o!ld &e a merep!ppet and the play &ecomes a tragedy of destiny %hich denies h!man freedom.Sophocles does not %ant to regard Oedip!s as a p!ppetthere is reason to&elie$e that Oedip!s has &een portrayed largely as a free agent. The attendant inthe play insistently descri&es Oedip!s> self2&linding as $ol!ntary anddisting!ishes it from his in$ol!ntary m!rder of his father and marriage %ith hismother. Oedip!s> actions %ere fate2&o!nd# &!t e$erything that he does# he doesas a free agent E his condemnation of Teiresias and )reon# his con$ersation %ith.ocasta to re$eal the facts# his p!rs!ing his in$estigation despite the efforts of .ocasta and the The&an shepherd to stop him# and so on. Oedip!s# freelychoosing a series of actions# led to his o%n r!in. Oedip!s co!ld ha$e left theplag!e to ta+e its co!rse &!t his pity o$er the s!fferings of his people forced himto cons!lt the oracle. ,e co!ld ha$e left the m!rder of *ai!s !nin$estigated# &!this lo$e of j!stice o&liged him to in !ire. ,e need not ha$e forced the tr!th fromthe rel!ctant The&an shepherd &!t he co!ld not rest content %ith a lie. Teiresias#.ocasta# the The&an shepherd each tried to stop Oedip!s# &!t he %asdetermined to sol$e the pro&lem of his o%n parentage. The direct ca!se of hisr!in is not fate- no oracle said that he m!st disco$er the tr!th. Still less does theca!se of his r!in lie in his o%n %ea+ness. ,is o%n strength and co!rage# hisloyalty to The&es and his lo$e of tr!th ca!ses his r!in. /ll this sho%s him a free agent. In spite of the facts that Oedip!s is a free agent in most of his actions# still themost tragic e$ents of his life E his m!rder of his father and his marriage %ith hismother E had ine$ita&ly to happen. ,ere the responsi&ility of fate cannot &edenied. The real tragedy lies in the disco$ery of tr!th# %hich is d!e to his o%ntraits. If he had not disco$ered the tr!th# he %o!ld ha$e contin!ed to li$e in astate of &lissf!l ignorance and there %o!ld ha$e &een no tragedy and nos!ffering. B!t the parricide and the incest %ere pre2 ordained and for these fate isresponsi&le.

Oedip!s ;e'6 )atharsis


/ccording to /ristotle tragedy sho!ld aro!se the feeling of pity and terror E pityfor the hero>s tragic fate and terror at the sight of the dreadf!l s!ffering &efallingpartic!larly the hero. By aro!sing pity and terror# a tragedy aims at the catharsisof these and similar other emotions and c!res these feelings %hich al%ays e'istin o!r hearts. / tragedy# hence# affords emotional relief and the spectators rise atits end %ith a feeling of pleas!re. This# according to /ristotle# is the aestheticf!nction of tragedy. Thro!gh catharsis the emotions are red!ced to a healthy and&alanced proportion. Besides pity and fear an a!dience also e'periencescontempt# hatred# delight# indignation# and admiration. Still# these emotions areless important or less intense. 9ity and fear are the dominant emotions and theyare intensely prod!ced. Tragedy# &y means of pity# fear and other emotions also pro$ides e'ercise andno!rishment for the emotional side of h!man nat!re. It also satisfies o!r lo$e of &ea!ty and of tr!th# of tr!th to life and tr!th a&o!t life. E'perience# and moree'perience# is a nat!ral h!man cra$ing. Tragedy leads to an enrichment of o!r e'perience of h!man life. It may teach !s to li$e more %isely and %iden the&o!ndaries of o!r e'perience of life. Tragedy sho%s the eternal contradiction&et%een h!man %ea+ness and h!man co!rage# h!man st!pidity and h!mangreatness# h!man frailty and h!man strength. Tragedy gi$es !s pleas!re &ye'hi&iting h!man end!rance and perse$erance in the face of calamities anddisasters. 9ity and fear are the dominating feelings prod!ced &y the play <Oedip!s ;e'=. /part from catharsis of these feelings# the play deepens o!r e'perience of h!man life and enhances o!r !nderstanding of h!man nat!re and h!manpsychology. The prolog!e prod!ces in !s pity and fear# pity for the s!fferingpop!lation of The&es and fear of f!t!re misfort!nes %hich might &efall the people. The 9riest# descri&ing the state of affairs# refers to a tide of death from%hich there is no escape# death in the fields and past!res# in the %om&s of %omen# death ca!sed &y the plag!e %hich grips the city. Oedip!s gi$ese'pression to his feeling of sympathy# telling the 9riest that his heart is &!rdened&y the s!ffering of all the people. The entry2 song of the )hor!s follo%ing theprolog!e heightens the feelings of pity and fear. The )hor!s says6 <With fear my heart is ri$en# fear of %hat shall &e told. Fear is !pon !s.= Oedip!s> proclamation of his resol$e to trac+ do%n the m!rderer of *ai!s &ringssome relief to !s. B!t the c!rse# %hich Oedip!s !tters !pon the !n+no%n criminaland !pon those %ho may &e sheltering him# also terrifies !s &y its fierceness.The scene in %hich Oedip!s clashes %ith Teiresias contri&!tes to the feelings of pity and terror# the prophecy of Teiresias is frightening &eca!se it relates toOedip!s. Teiresias spea+s to Oedip!s in alarming tones# descri&ing him in a$eiled manner as <h!s&and of the %oman %ho &ore him# father2+iller and father2s!pplanter= and acc!sing him openly of &eing a m!rderer. In the scene %ith )reon# the feeling of terror is m!ch less# arising mainly fromOedip!s> sentence of death against the innocent )reon %hich is soon %ithdra%n.The tension reappears %ith Oedip!s> s!spicion on hearing from

.ocasta that*ai!s %as +illed %here three roads met. Oedip!s> acco!nt of his arri$al at The&esaro!ses the feeling of terror &y its reference to the prophecy %hich he recei$edfrom the oracle# &!t &oth terror and pity s!&side %hen .ocasta tries to ass!reOedip!s that prophecies deser$e no attention. The song of the )hor!s harshlyre&!+ing the pro!d tyrant re$i$es some of the terror in o!r minds# &!t it agains!&sides at the arri$al of the )orinthian after hearing %hom .ocasta moc+s at theoracles. The drama no% contin!es at a rather lo% +ey till first .ocasta and thenOedip!s find themsel$es confronted %ith the tr!e facts of the sit!ations. With thedisco$ery of tr!e facts# &oth the feelings of pity and fear reach their clima'# %ithOedip!s lamenting his sinf!l acts of +illing his father and marrying his mother. B!t the feelings of pity and fear do not end here. The song of the )hor!simmediately follo%ing the disco$ery aro!ses o!r deepest sympathy at Oedip!s>sad fate. The )hor!s e'tends the scope of its o&ser$ations to incl!de allman+ind6 </ll the generations of mortal man add !p to nothing.= Then comes the messenger from the palace and he gi$es a terri&le acco!nt of the manner in %hich .ocasta hanged herself and Oedip!s &linded himself. Themessenger concl!ded his acco!nt %ith the remar+ that the royal ho!sehold istoday o$er%helmed &y <calamity# death# r!in# tears and shame=. Thecon$ersation of the )hor!s %ith Oedip!s %ho is not &lind is also e'tremelymo$ing. Oedip!s spea+s of his physical and mental agony and the )hor!s triesto console him. Oedip!s descri&es himself as6 <FF shedder of father>s &lood# h!s&and of mother# (odless and child of shame#&egetter of &rother2sons=. The feeling of deep grief &y Oedip!s is e'perienced &y the a!dience %ith ane !al intensity. The scene of Oedip!s> meeting %ith his da!ghters is also $eryto!ching. ,is da!ghters# laments Oedip!s# %ill ha$e to %ander homeless andh!s&andless. ,e appeals to )reon in mo$ing %ords to loo+ after them. The feeling of pity and fear has &een contin!o!sly e'perienced from the $eryopening scene of the play. Other feelings aro!sed in o!r hearts %ere irritation%ith Oedip!s at his ill2treatment of Teiresias# anger against Teiresias for hiso&stinacy and insolence# admiration for )reon for his moderation and loyalty#li+ing for .ocasta for her de$otion to Oedip!s# admiration for Oedip!s for hisrelentless p!rs!its of tr!th and so on. B!t the feelings of relief# delight andpleas!re ha$e also &een aro!sed in !s. These feelings are the res!lt partly of thefelicity of the lang!age employed and the m!sic of poetry# &!t mainly the res!lt of the spectacle of h!man greatness %hich %e ha$e %itnessed side &y side %ith thespectacle of h!man misery. The sins of Oedip!s %ere committed !n+no%ingly- infact Oedip!s did his !tmost to a$ert the disaster. Oedip!s is# therefore#essentially an innocent man# despite his sin of pride and tyranny. .ocasta too isinnocent# in spite of her sin of scepticism. There is no $illainy to &e condemned inthe play. The essential goodness of Oedip!s# .ocasta and )reon is highlypleasing to !s. B!t e$en more pleasing tho!gh at the same time saddening is thespectacle of h!man end!rance seen in .ocasta and Oedip!s inflicting !ponthemsel$es a p!nishment that is a%f!l and terri&le. In the closing

scene# the &lindOedip!s rises tr!ly to heroic heights# displaying an indomita&le spirit. Blind andhelpless tho!gh he no% is# and e'tremely ashamed of his parricide andincest!o!s e'perience as he is# he yet sho%s an in$!lnera&le mind and it is this%hich has a s!staining# cheering# !plifting and e'hilarating effect !pon !s. .ocasta>s fate !nderlines that of Oedip!s. So does the great song of the )hor!son the la%s %hich are <enthroned a&o$e=. The song and in partic!lar theden!nciation of the tyrant are rele$ant to Oedip!s and .ocasta. The song &egins%ith a prayer for p!rity and re$erence# clearly an ans%er to Oedip!s> and.ocasta's do!&ts a&o!t the oracles. It ends %ith an e$en more emphatice'pression of fear of %hat %ill happen if the tr!th of the di$ine oracles is denied.Bet%een the first and the last stan5as the )hor!s descri&es the man %ho is &ornof hy&ris# s!ch hy&ris as is displayed &y the ?ing and the B!een. The descriptionfollo%s to a large e'tent the con$entional pict!re of the tyrant# mentioning hispride# greed and irre$erence. Aot e$ery feat!re fits the character of Oedip!s# nor sho!ld %e e'pect that. The )hor!s fears that he %ho &eha$es %ith pres!mption#pride and self2confidence %ill t!rn tyrannical and impio!s# and they foresee thatGe!s# the tr!e ?ing of the %orld %ill p!nish the sins of the mortal ?ing. If he doesnot do so# all religion %ill &ecome meaningless# and all %ill &e lost.

Othello 2 Battle of (ood $s. E$il


<I am not %hat I am.= What is Iago@ 22 as distinct from %hat he pretends to &e 22 and %hat are hismoti$es@ In Sha+espeare's# Othello# the reader is presented the classic &attle &et%een thedeceitf!l forces of e$il and the innocence of good. It are these forces of e$il that!ltimately lead to the &rea+do%n of Othello# a no&le "enetian moor# %ell2+no%n&y the people of "enice as a hono!ra&le soldier and a %orthy leader. Othello's&rea+do%n res!lts in the m!rder of his %ife 3esdemona. 3esdemona isrepresentati$e of the good in nat!re. (ood can &e defined as forgi$ing# honest#innocent and !ns!specting. The e$il contained %ithin Othello is &y no meansmagical or mythical yet is represented &y the character Iago. Iago is c!nning#!ntr!st%orthy# selfish# and plotting. ,e !ses these traits to his ad$antage &yslo%ly planning his o%n tri!mph %hile %atching the demise of others. It is thisthat is Iago's moti$ation. The !ltimate defeat of good &y the %rath of e$il. Aot onlyis it in his o%n nat!re of e$il that he s!cceeds &!t also in the %ea+nesses of theother characters. Iago !ses the %ea+nesses of Othello# specifically jealo!sy andhis de$otion to things as they seem# to con !er his opposite in 3esdemona.From the start of the play# Iago's scheming a&ility is sho%n %hen he con$inces;oderigo to tell a&o!t Othello and 3esdemonda's elopement to 3esdemona'sfather# Bra&antio. )onfidentally Iago contin!es his plot s!ccessf!lly# ma+ing foolsof others# and himself &eing re%arded. E'cept ;oderigo# no one is a%are of Iago's plans. This is &eca!se Iago pretends to &e an honest man loyal to hiss!periors. The fact that Othello himself $ie%s Iago as tr!st%orthy and honestgi$es the e$il %ithin Iago a perfect !ns!specting $ictim for his schemes. Theopport!nity to get to 3esdemona thro!gh Othello is one temptation that Iagocannot ref!se. ,e creates the impression that 3esdemona is ha$ing an affair %ith )assio in

order to stir the jealo!sy %ithin Othello. It is this jealo!sy and theignorance of Othello that lead to the do%nfall of 3esdemona- the one tr!ly goodnat!red character in the play. /s the play opens %e are immediately introd!ced to the hostility of Iago againstOthello. Iago has &een appointed the position of ser$ant to Othello instead of themore prestigio!s position of lie!tenant. Michael )assio has &een appointed thisposition. Iago feels &etrayed &eca!se he considers him self more !alified than)assio to ser$e as lie!tenant. Iago then foreshado%s his plans for Othello to;oderigo# <O# sir# content yo!I follo% him to ser$e my t!rn !pon him" Iago already reali5es that Othello thin+s a&o!t him as an honest man. ;oderigois !sed &y Iago as an apprentice and someone to do his <dirty= %or+. ;oderigo isnai$ely !ns!specting. /s the play shifts from "enice to )ypr!s there is aninteresting contrast. "enice# a respectf!l and hono!ra&le to%n is o$ershado%ed&y the %ar torn $illages of )ypr!s. It co!ld &e said that "enice represents good or specifically 3esdemona and that )ypr!s represents e$il in Iago. 3esdemona has&een ta+en from her peacef!lness and &ro!ght onto the gro!nds of e$il. Iagocommits his largest acts of deceit in )ypr!s# fittingly considering the atmosphere.Ironically# the "enetians feel the T!r+s are their only enemy %hile in fact Iago is inhindsight the one man %ho destroys their sta&le state. /ct II Scene III sho%sIago's %illing a&ility to manip!late characters in the play. Iago con$inces Montanoto inform Othello of )assio's %ea+ness for alcohol hoping this %o!ld ro!sedissatisfaction &y Othello. Iago %hen forced to tell the tr!th against another character does so $ery s!spicio!sly. ,e pretends not to offend )assio %hentelling Othello of the fight )assio %as in$ol$ed in# &!t Iago secretly %ants the%orst to &ecome of )assio's sit!ation %itho!t seeming responsi&le. )assio isrelie$ed of his d!ty as lie!tenant. With )assio no longer in the position of lie!tenant# this gi$es Iago the opport!nity to more effecti$ely interact %ith andmanip!late Othello. By controlling Othello# Iago %o!ld essentially control3esdemona. To reach 3esdemona directly is !nforeseea&le for Iago considering that Othellois s!perior to him. It is for this reason that Iago decides to e'ploit Othello. If Iagocan t!rn Othello against his o%n %ife he %ill ha$e defeated his opposition. /ct IIIScene III# is $ery important &eca!se it is the point in the play %here Iago &eginsto esta&lish his manip!lation of Othello. )assio feels that it is necessary to see+the help of 3esdemona in order to regain his position of lie!tenant and thereforemeets %ith her to disc!ss this possi&ility. Iago and Othello enter the scene j!stafter )assio lea$es# and Iago %istf!lly tries to ma+e it loo+ li+e )assio left&eca!se he does not %ant to &e seen in the co!rtship of 3esdemona. Iagosarcastically remar+s6 <)assio# my lordH Ao# s!re# I cannot thin+ it That he %o!ld steal a%ay so g!ilty2li+e# Seeing yo!r coming.= When 3esdemona lea$es# Iago ta+es the opport!nity to strengthen Othello's$ie%s of honesty and tr!st to%ards him &y saying ironically#

<Men sho!ld &e %hat they seemOr those that &e not# %o!ld they might seem noneH" This cle$erness &y Iago %or+s !pon one of the tragic fla%s of Othello. Othellohas a tendency to ta+e e$erything he sees and e$erything he is told at face $al!e%itho!t !estioning the circ!mstances. Iago %onders %hy someone %o!ldpretend to &e something they are not# %hile in fact that is the e'act thing he represents. Finally# after hearing the e'ploits of Iago and %itnessing the e$entss!rro!nding )assio# Othello for the first time is in conflict a&o!t %hat is the tr!th.This is the first stage of Iago's scheme to control Othello. /s Emilia &ecomess!spicio!s a&o!t Othello's de$elopment of jealo!sy# 3esdemona defends her h!s&and &y &laming herself for any harm done. This once again sho%s3esdemona's compassion and %illingness to sacrifice herself for her h!s&and.Othello &egins to sho% his diffic!lty in maintaining his compos!re6 <Well# my good lady. I/sideJ O# hardness to dissem&le 22 ,o% do yo!# 3esdemona@ /ct I"# Scene I is a contin!ation of the an'iety and indifference Othello is !nder going. Iago ta+es ad$antage of this &y &eing &l!nt %ith Othello a&o!t his %ife3esdemona. Iago s!ggests that she is ha$ing se'!al relations %ith other men#possi&ly )assio# and contin!es on as if nothing has happened. This s!ggestionsp!t Othello into a state of s!ch emotional t!rmoil that he is lost in a trance. Iago'scontrol o$er Othello is so strong no% that he con$inces him to consider getting ridof 3esdemona and e$en s!ggests methods of +illing her. Iago# so pro!d of hisaccomplishments of !nderhandedness6 <Wor+ on. My medicine %or+H Th!s cred!lo!s fools are ca!ght/nd many %orthy and chaste dames e$en th!s# /ll g!iltless# meet reproach.= Othello in this state commits his first act of $iolence against 3esdemona &yhitting her. This as a res!lt of 3esdemona's mention of )assio. This sho%s no%Othello's other tragic fla%. ,e made himself s!scepti&le to Iago and the jealo!sy%ithin him &egins to lead to the demise of others. By his actions Othello hasisolated himself from e$eryone e'cept Iago. This gi$es Iago the perfectopport!nity to complete his co!rse of action. Iago does not tolerate anyinterference in his plans# and he first m!rders ;oderigo &efore he can dispell thee$il that Iago represents. Finally# Othello# so f!ll of the lies told to him &y Iagom!rders his %ife. 3esdemona# representati$e of goodness and hea$en as a%hole &lames her death on herself and not Othello. Iago's %ife# Emilia# &ecomesthe !ltimate !ndoing of Iago. /fter re$ealing Iago's plot to Othello# Iago +ills her.This is yet another $icio!s act to sho% the tr!e e$il Iago represents. Othellofinally reali5es after &eing fooled into m!rder 6 <I loo+ do%n to%ards his feet- &!t that's a fa&le If that tho! &est a de$il# I cannot +ill thee.= Iago says

<I &leed# sir# &!t not +illed# This is the final statement &y Iago himself that tr!ely sho%s his &elief in e$il andthat he tr!ly thin+s he is the de$il. That is the destr!ction of all that is good. ,ello$er hea$en and &lac+ o$er %hite. Iago# as a representation of e$il# has one major moti$ational factor that leads himto lie# cheat# and commit crimes on other characters. This moti$ation is thedestr!ction of all that is good and the rise of e$il. This contrast is represented&et%een Iago and 3esdemona. 3esdemona is descri&ed fre !ently &y other characters as <she is di$ine# the grace of hea$en=# %hile Iago in contrast isdescri&ed as hellish after his plot is !nco$ered. Iago !ses the other characters inthe play to %or+ specifically to%ards his goal. In this %ay# he can maintain hiss!pposed !n+no%ingness a&o!t the e$ents going on and still %or+ his scheming%ays. Iago's schemes ho%e$er at times seem to %or+ !nrealistically %ell %hichmay or may not &e a case of %itchcraft or magic. Iago's major mista+e# ironically#is that he tr!sted his %ife Emilia and fo!nd that she %as not as tr!st%orthy as hetho!ght. /ltho!gh not completely $ictorio!s at the concl!sion of the play# Iagodoes s!ccessf!lly eliminate the one character representati$e of hea$en#innocence# and honesty. Ket <remains the cens!re of this hellish $illain=. Finally# e$erything Iago pretended to &e led to his demise 6 ,onesty# Innocence#and *o$e..

Oedip!s ;e'6 Tragic Irony


The famo!s phrase# "The moti$e2h!nting of moti$eless Malignity#" occ!rs in anote Sam!el Taylor )oleridge %rote in his copy of Sha+espeare# as he %aspreparing a series of lect!res deli$ered in the %inter of 7L7L27L78. The noteconcerns the end of /ct 7# Scene D of Othello in %hich Iago ta+es lea$e of ;oderigo# saying# "(o to# fare%ell. 9!t money eno!gh in yo!r p!rse#" and then deli$ers the solilo !y &eginning "Th!s do I e$er ma+e my fool my p!rse." ,ere is )oleridge's note6 The tri!mphH again# p!t money after the effect has &een f!lly prod!ced.22 The lastSpeech# the moti$e2h!nting of moti$eless Malignity22ho% a%f!lH In itself fiendish22%hile yet he %as allo%ed to &ear the di$ine image# too fiendish for his o%n steady"ie%.22/ &eing ne't to 3e$il22only not !ite 3e$il22M this Sha+espeare hasattempted22 e'ec!ted22%itho!t disg!st# %itho!t ScandalH22 0*ect!res 7LNL27L78On *iterat!re C6 D7O1 )oleridge's phrase is often ta+en to mean that Iago has no real moti$e and doese$il only &eca!se he is e$il. This is not far from %hat )oleridge meant#

&!t healmost certainly %asn't !sing the %ord <moti$e" in the same %ay as it's no% !sed.We !se it to mean <an emotion# desire# physiological need# or similar imp!lse thatacts as an incitement to action" 0"Moti$e"1. This definition e !ates <moti$e" and<imp!lse"- )oleridge# ho%e$er# tho!ght the t%o !ite different. ,e ma+es thisdistinction in an entry he %rote for Omniana# a collection of sayings assem&led&y his friend ;o&ert So!they and p!&lished in 7L7C. ,ere is %hat )oleridge%rote6 778. Moti$es and Imp!lses. <It is a matter of infinite diffic!lty# &!t fort!nately of comparati$e indifference# todetermine %hat a man's moti$e may ha$e &een for this or that partic!lar action.;ather see+ to learn %hat his o&jects in general areH22 What does he ha&it!ally%ish@ ha&it!ally p!rs!e@22and thence ded!ce his imp!lses# %hich are commonlythe tr!e efficient ca!ses of men's cond!ctand %itho!t %hich the moti$e itself %o!ld not ha$e &ecome a moti$e. *et a ha!nch of $enison represent the moti$e#and the +een appetite of health and e'ercise the imp!lse6 then place the same or some more fa$o!rite dish# &efore the same man# sic+# dyspeptic# and stomach2%orn# and %e may then %eigh the comparati$e infl!ences of moti$es andimp!lses. Witho!t the perception of this tr!th# it is impossi&le to !nderstand thecharacter of Iago# %ho is represented as no% assigning one# and then another#and again a third# moti$e for his cond!ct# all ali+e the mere fictions of his o%nrestless nat!re# distempered &y a +een sense of his intellect!al s!periority# andha!nted &y the lo$e of e'erting po%er# on those especially %ho are his s!periorsin practical and moral e'cellence. Ket ho% many among o!r modern critics ha$eattri&!ted to the profo!nd a!thor this# the appropriate inconsistency of thecharacter itselfH= 0Shorter Wor+s and Fragments 76 D7N1 Th!s )oleridge asserts that Iago's moti$es 0in o!r sense1 %ere his <+een senseof his intellect!al s!periority" and his <lo$e of e'erting po%er." /nd so Iago'smalignity is <moti$eless" &eca!se his moti$es 0in )oleridge's sense1 22 &eingpassed o$er for promotion# his s!spicion that Othello is ha$ing an affair %ith his%ife# and the s!spicion that )assio is also ha$ing an affair %ith Emilia 22 aremerely rationali5ations.

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