A Comparison Of Love In Othello And King Lear

A Comparison Of Love In Othello And King Lear

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What is love? Love is the pinnacle of all emotions, it is the epicenter for life, what is the point of living if there is no love, ironically love is the cause of many a down fall. William Shakespeare has single handedly captured and embraced this necessary feeling and has allowed us to view in on it through the characters in his two masterpieces, Othello and King Lear. Three different kinds of loves explored in both Othello and King Lear, sharing both similarities and differences are a love for a significant other, the love a father holds to his children, and the love a daughter holds for her father. By looking at the outcomes of these loves one may draw a sense of loves negative and positive effects, and how the different traits of loves play into the outcomes in the fate of Shakespeare's characters. Through the analysis of love in these two plays one will become a more knowledgeable student of literature.
The first love one may want to peer into in both Othello and King Lear is the Love one may hold for a significant other. This type of love is prevalent in Othello between Othello and Desdemona, and can be compared to King Lear through Goneril and Regan with their husbands and having Edmund thrown in the mix. Desdemona's love for Othello is made very clear right from the start when she goes to bat for him against her father. This is seen when her father was so upset that he brought charges upon Othello to try and revoke their vows. She gives reasons why her explanation of the reasons she loves Othello defines her essential character as a woman of loyalty and fidelity to him, and not simply to a picture of him gleaned from a story told by him (B. Long). Later on in the play Desdemona's loves continues to shine through until the very end when Othello has became so enraged he is over her about to take her life she pleas to keep through her reinstating her love for him. According to the critic B. Long this is not just a scapegoat to save her life but that she truly loves him in a very genuine way; one may have a hard time finding text to prove otherwise. If Desdemona's love for Othello was a subservient love, generated by seeing his facade in his mind and fueled by her delight in his honors and heroic parts, Othello's love towards Desdemona is rather different.

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Though he will later speak of his logic of pleasure to be united with her after a dangerous trip to Cyprus (B Long), with such thrilled words as "it is too much of joy (Othello 2.1.197), he is content not because he feels she is his "soul mate;" rather, he loved her because she fell in love with him through his stories. Both Othello and Desdemona share the same type of love, the love for a significant other they are different degrees. Desdemona's unselfish unconditional love leads to her death while Othello's love of being love led to his jealousy a product of love which led to both of their demises
Unlike Desdemona Goneril and Regan of King Lear their love for their husband is not as genuine and they hold a lust for Edmond. The sisters Goneril and Regan Love is the same the reasons they loved their husbands was not because the people they were, they way Desdemona Loved Othello because of who he was, but because of the power and wealth in which they possessed. This is the reason they both found them selves attracted to Edmond because the power he was gradually obtaining through the deceit of his father (m. Schwehn). This love triangle of lust is what leads to Goneril, Regan's, and somewhat Edmonds demise, when Albany finds out Goneril is trying to have him killed so she can be with Edmond he sets out to kill Edmond and in a way does so, Goneril than freaks out and kills herself, and to have Edmond to herself Goneril poisons Regan causing her death. Both Othello and King Lear use love for a significant other, these loves seemed to take different paths leading to the same outcomes. While Desdemona and Othello seemed to hold close to each other until the last acts in the pages of King Lear the plans of deceit towards ones significant other are continuously visible (E. Friedlander), but in the end all roads seem to lead to death.
Next one may want to look into the love a father holds for a child. This love is also tested in both Othello through Brabantio and Desdemona, and in King Lear through both King Lear and his Daughters and Gloucester and his Sons. Brabantio's love for his daughter Desdemona comes out in the beginning of the play when he finds out his daughter has married Othello. This demonstrates a love a father holds for his daughter because he sees it as no one is good enough for his Desdemona even a man who he knows very well like Othello (A. Bradley). An example of this is in the beginning of the play when Brabantio takes the issue of his daughter's marriage to court. According to B. Long Desdemona running off with Othello upset him greatly and led to him dying of not old age but a broken heart. King Lear's love for his daughter mainly Goneril and Regan can be more related to Desdemona's love for Othello because much the same as Desdemona King Lear's unconditional love for Goneril and Regan hazed his vision to the wicked plans hiding under their angelic masks and impure flattery (A. Bradley). Gloucester much like Brabantio and King Lear loved his children highly. Also much the same this love for a child led to the cause of great pain to fall upon him. Even though Edmond unlike Edgar is an illegitimate son he loves them both the same until he connived into perceiving Edgar is in attempts to sabotage him and is blinded that Edmond is the one out to get him demonstrated in the beginning of the play. This affect of love is mirrored by the way King Lear's love for his children is beginning his downfall (M. Schwehn). One may see that it is becoming more apparent that within Shakespeare's many times when one poses an unconditional love for another it inhibits them from perceiving a very apparent future.
Finally a love prevalent in both Othello and King Lear is a love a daughter holds for her father. This love is shown in Othello through Desdemona and Brabantio, and can be contrasted through King Lear's characters Cordelia and King Lear. Both Desdemona and Cordelia loved their father, both of theses relationships faced stress but continued to hold. Both A. Bradley and B. Long agree that the love Desdemona held for he father was not as significant as Cordelia's for King Lear. Desdemona's love for her father was tested when he denounced her marriage to Othello and tried to have their vows revoked, even after Brabantio tried to separate her from her love Othello she continued to love him and his part in the play in the opinion of B. Long became less substantial. Unlike in Othello in King Lear Cordelia's love for her father King Lear is much more substantial to the play and can be more related to Edgar's bond to his father Glocester according to M. schwehn. King Lear is coned into believing that Cordilia is untrue to him only because she is honest next to her sister's wall of lies and relinquishes her inherit rights to his early inheritance and disowns her, this is an example of how unconditional Cordelia's love is because Despite Lear's actions Cordelia continues to hold her love true.
What is the answer to the question, what is love? through the analysis of just three kinds of love, love for a significant other, love for a child, and a daughter's love for her father and the many degrees of qualities within, in Just two of Shakespeare's works Othello and
King Lear, one may come closer to the answer but this is a question much too broad to be answered in such a short research.


Works cited

Bradley, A. "Shakespeare: Othello-Bradley on Othello" Oct 2005,http://sunflower.singnet.com.sg/~yisheng/ notes/shakespeare/othello_b

Friedlander, E. "Enjoying King Lear" Jan 2005,
http://www.pathguy.com/kinglear.htm

Long, B. "Othello, the moor" Nov 2004,
http://www.willamette.edu/~blong/ShakeO

Schwehn, M. "King Lear: Love and Justice in the Family"
Oct 1993, http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9310/schwehn

Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New York: New American Library, 1998

Shakespeare, William. Othello. New York: New American Library, 1998
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