Compare and Contrast King Lear and Othello Essay

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King Lear and Othello

William Shakespeare's King Lear and Othello are both tragic plays where many of the main and supporting characters die. Both characters are powerful men in charge of land and the citizens within that land but lose their power because of their own foolishness. Although Lear is a king at the start of the play and Othello is only a soldier, the two men both fulfill the role of the leader of their respective communities. This is not the only thing the two main characters have in common. In both stories, the main characters, Lear and Othello, make decisions which lead to the deaths of those they care about and a great deal of other violent consequences. Each character believes someone who lies to them, turns against an innocent person who did nothing wrong to them, experiences a period of madness, and ultimately makes choices which lead to his own death.

Lies are an important aspect of both King Lear and Othello. At the start of King Lear, he asks his daughters to declare how much they love him. The two elder daughters lie and the youngest tells the truth. Cordelia, the youngest, says, "Good, my lord, you have begot me, bred me, loved me; I / Return those duties back as are right fit" (I.i. 95-96). She says she loves him only as a daughter should and nothing more. Rather than rewarding her honesty, he punishes her and gives land to the two who deceived him. Othello also believes someone who lies when he accepts Iago's claims that his wife Desdemona is being unfaithful to him with his friend and fellow soldier Cassio.
This begins when Iago says, "No, sure, I cannot thing it that [Cassio] would steal away so guiltylike, seeing your coming" (III.iii. 41-43). Despite the fact that Othello has no reason to believe this, Iago slowly makes him doubt Desdemona until he becomes obsessed with the idea that she has been unfaithful. The lies of this man are believed and the course of events is set.

Cordelia and Desdemona are the two female heroines of King Lear and Othello respectively. Neither of these women has done anything wrong but the main characters turn against them. In King Lear, when Cordelia refuses to lie to her father about how much she loves him, he disinherits her and kicks her out of the family so that she must make her way alone. He says, "Here I disclaim all my paternal care…And as a stranger to my heart and me / Hold thee, from this, for ever" (I.i.113-116). Luckily the King of France loves her for herself and takes her in making his/her wife. Desdemona does absolutely nothing to inspire her husband to turn against her except in supporting her friend Cassio when he is unfairly dismissed. Othello's mind is poisoned by Iago and Desdemona becomes the victim of that man's desire for vengeance against his general. When Othello decides to kill his wife, Iago says, "Do it not with poison. Strangle her in / Her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated" (IV.i.155-56). Desdemona dies for no reason and even though she is innocent and….....

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