Comparing Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello

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Comparing Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello

Shakespeare’s tragedies were extremely popular in Elizabethan times and today. A tragedy is described as “a sad, serious story or play, usually ending with the death of the hero. A disastrous, fatal or dreadful event.” By comparing the three plays, Macbeth, Hamlet and Othello it is possible to see how he has used techniques appropriate to tragedy and how he applied them to his plays. The opening of the play is significant because it sets the scene and the preceding atmosphere. When looking at the start of many of Shakespeare’s plays the audience generally discovers the protagonist by other characters. The audience also become aware of where the play is performed, together with important events contained in the play’s plot. In order to compose the openings of the plays it is necessary to examine the way in which Shakespeare uses setting, imagery, language, theme and structure. In doing this it will be possible to understand Shakespeare engages the audience attention in his opening scenes.

The setting of a play is very important. The setting creates the mood and can say a lot about the characters in that scene, following scenes, and often introduces characters we have not yet met. In Othello a dubious character Iago is introduced in a dark alley. Dark, shady pathways are synonymous with wrong doings and give the audience a hint that the character is bad. Shakespeare does this therefore, to create a picture of the character. He puts that character in a stereotypical environment. There is a degree of mystery surrounding the dark as it limits your senses. This helps accentuate the idea that Iago is a dubious character. In Macbeth the witches appear amidst thunder and li...

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... Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth., no lin. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Norton Critical ed. Ed. Cyrus Hoy. New York: Norton, 1992. Shakespeare, William. Othello. Clayton: Prestwick House Inc., 2005
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