The Definition Of Tragedy In Shakespeare's Othello And King Lear

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In Poetics, Aristotle defines the genre of tragedy, which has long been respected as the only efficient and effective model for attaining true tragic effect. Despite this tradition, Shakespeare’s plays deviate from this framework, but are still revered as respected Renaissance tragedies. By Aristotelian definitions, neither King Lear nor Othello are ideal tragedies, but nonetheless they both adeptly accomplish the aim of tragedy. Both plays still arouse feelings of pity and fear, despite varying in form from Aristotle’s ideal tragedies and even each other. King Lear is more experimental in its approach, while Othello follows Aristotle’s principles of unity more closely. Shakespeare’s varied approach to tragedy allows for the exploration of …show more content…
Namely Othello and King Lear show the greatest contrast of the concept of unity of time. Othello takes place in a short amount of time, confining the action to roughly twenty-four hours. Othello’s complete consumption by passion is almost immediate QUOTATION MAYBE. He descends from contentment and stability into completely bestial fervour in the passing of a few hours. The condensed time intensifies the action, enabling concentrated manipulation, misunderstanding, and ultimately extreme emotion. The impact of Othello is heightened and intensified through unity of time. The emotions are quick and powerful, completely consuming the characters until nothing remains. QUOTATION MAYBE. Othello’s use of time arouses genuine fear; audiences are repulsed by the quick change of affairs and irrational actions of Othello and Iago. The use of unity of time in Othello is terrifying because it shows how precarious order inherently is. Society is extremely fragile and dependent on the rational internal order of its citizens’. Othello, with its compacted time, shows how quickly equilibrium can be disturbed and how easily humankind can descend into irrational disorder. This thematic idea is crucial to creating the essential tragic effect of fear and is largely supported through unity of …show more content…
He varied his approach greatly from play to play. Unity of place is utilised oppositely in Othello and King Lear. Othello is set in two cities: Venice and Cyprus. The first act takes place in Venice, but this can largely be seen as almost a prologue to the main action of the play. Thus the main setting and tragic effect take place in Cyprus. All events of the play take place in a central location, allowing tragic effect to be concentrated. The tragedy seems inescapable because it is confined to one place where the characters seem unable to leave while the havoc continues. Events happening in other cities do not distract from the horror and confusion taking place in Cyprus. Once the setting of Othello moves to Cyprus, Venice goes largely ignored until the end of the play where order begins to be restored. Containing the calamity to one location, in this case, does allow for some enhancement of tragic effect. Cyprus becomes the vehicle for irrationality and disruption of order, while Venice represents a calmer and statelier society. Confining the tragedy to a single location helps strengthen the dichotomy between internal and external disorder present in Othello, which enhances feelings of pity and fear. It is a concept understandable to all and making this contrast starker only strengthens its effects. Of course to make this contrast evident, more than one location does need to exist in the play,

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