Tragedy of Othello… and every other story written by Shakespeare
As many people know, Shakespeare was an English playwright in the 16th century. He wrote many famous plays and even played in some of them as well, among these plays were some of the most well known plays to man. This consisted of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caeser and Othello. While these were only some of the works of Shakespeare. I would like to talk about how Shakespeare seemed to rip off of his own work and tropes from his past plays to work on Othello, one of this best known pieces and one of his last well-known to the modern day pieces. I would also like to talk about how these plays have influenced modern day works and media in general from nowadays.
When reading classic plays such as Romeo and Juliet, there are obvious aspects of them that portray the idea of them being a tragedy. Such as double suicide or someone being cheated on (or allegedly cheated on) and simply plenty of characters flat out dying. These are all tropes that can be found in many if not all of Shakespeare’s plays. Often these are done the same way as the last story he wrote at the time; this will be the first point we explore. Shakespeare’s Othello plagiarized the work and ideas of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. While characters dying is a common necessary trope of Tragedy’s, this however is seen in an almost identical way with these two plays. In Romeo and Juliet there is death of many supporting characters and the main characters commit double suicide. One of these important deaths is the death right before the death of Romeo, the death of Paris ‘Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet, 1997. Act 5 Scene 1. “ROMEO Wilt thou provoke me? then have at thee, boy! They fight PAGE O Lord, they fight! I will go call the watch. Exit PARIS O, I am slain! Falls If thou be merciful, Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet. Dies”’. In this scene Paris, a Capulet is the man who is supposed to marry Juliet. He is killed however by Romeo during the last act of the play due to a quarrel as to who the lover of Juliet would be. While this is a very basic way of killing a character, it does bear a striking resemblance to the way that the three main characters of Othello die. Othello kills his wife Desdemona because he believes that she has been unfaithful and cheated on him with his friend and advisor Iago. There are some glaring differences between these two plays and scenes, the similarities between them are very clear. On one hand we have a character who is fighting for his love and fighting for the right to stay with her. On the other hand we have Othello killing his love because he believes that she essentially did not love him. Do you see the Parrells? The point being that many of the stories written by Shakespeare although they have their differences are each filled with the similarities and role reversals from his previous plays.
Right behind this example of Shakespearean tragedies looking quite similar there is also the aspect of the tragedy of romance. When looking through both plays there is the aforementioned Othello tragedy where in Othello killed Desdemona because he though she had cheated on him Shakespeare, ‘William. Othello, 1604, Act 5 Scene 2. “DESDEMONA Nobody; I myself. Farewell Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell! Dies”’. Between the two stories the main characters deaths are both in act 5, this may just be commonplace for plays to kill off the characters in a tragedy in one of the final acts. It is still worth mentioning however.
Now that we have discussed how Shakespeare’s previous work has affected his future work, lets talk about how Shakespeare has affected media in the future. When looking at modern day media it is undeniable that Romeo and Juliet has had a impact. Take for example the hit classics such as the remakesThis is a picture of the 1996 Romeo + Juliet of it or Gnomeo and JulietThis image is a screen capture of the IMBD page poster. Clear spoofs of Shakespeare’s writing has been seen throughout years of cinema however I would like to point out that I believe Shakespeare made more of an impact of modern media with some themes and tropes used in Othello more than Romeo and Juliet. Take a look at film Noir. This is a concept in many media across the world where in the villain of a movie or at the very least the source of temptation is a women. In Othello one common theme is that the source of temptation although the evil was namely Iago, is Desdemona. My main example that I will use is pulp fiction. Often regarded as a perfect depiction of Film Noir, Pulp fiction is a movie made by Quintin Tarantino in 1994. The plot of the move starts with a man guarding the wife of his boss, to cut a long, great movie short the woman almost kills herself with a overdose and this sets off a large chain of events where in basically everyone dies. The source of this whole movie starts with the women being the source of the temptation and trouble caused. This fits quite well in comparing to Othello where Othello and Desdemona among other characters die simply because Iago thought that Emilia had cheated on him. All of this comes from the fear of women cheating and the temptation that women have on men (in film at least). I am not saying that Othello created the film Noir genre however, I fid it undeniable that it has heavily influenced the Genre and perhaps in some ways even defined it by being one of the first predecessors of it.
“Othello.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Dec. 2022,
“Romeo and Juliet.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Dec. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet.