The Importance Of Christopher Marlowe And William Shakespeare's Othello

Satisfactory Essays
The sixteenth century England that would be swept up in the flow of the Renaissance movement which would allow drama and plays to prosper. Two playwrights in particular, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were direct contemporaries during this influential time period, yet Marlowe’s early demise would prevent him from reaching the pinnacle of fame that Shakespeare did. However, Marlowe’s influence would survive within the heart of Shakespeare’s plays and give birth to new characters; Marlowe’s antagonist Barabas would inspire later stage villains such as Shakespeare’s antagonist Iago. Christopher Marlowe’s “ The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta,” often shortened to “Jew of Malta,” is often described as a tragic comedy. It presents the villainous Jewish merchant, Barabas, who is unrelenting in his efforts to gain revenge against his enemies: the governor who dispossesses him of his wealth, the nuns and friars, his daughter who betrays him by converting to Christianity, and even his own murdering accomplice – Ithamore. Shakespeare’s “Othello” succeeds the Jew of Malta and is described as a tragedy. It presents the villainous Iago, who undermines Othello and Desdemona’s relationship for a personal form of revenge and to further his own position. Iago’s character is firmly rooted in the stage villain inspired by Barabas; both whom are portrayed as Machiavellian villains and prime malefactors in their respective plays whom resort to deceit, betray , and murder as means to their own ends. Both characters distort the ideals known to the audience at the time; Marlowe targets the religions that glue society together, yet Shakespeare crucially corrupts the virtues we idealized to the point of damnation. Barabas and Iago are ...

... middle of paper ...

...and the honorable Cassio is left to rule Cyprus; The Jew of Malta ends on a more dismal note where we readers are left uneasy, knowing that we ultimately cannot leave our faith in those remaining. Therefore Barabas emerges victorious over Iago as a Machiavellian villain.
Ultimately, Marlowe’s the Jew of Malta and Shakespeare’s Othello are two different stories yet utilize similar villains -- due to Marlowe’s skilled creation of the stage villain that would persevere throughout later plays and inspire others, such as Shakespeare’s antagonist, Iago. These stories both convolute and distort accepted ideas and notions of the current period -- but are not limited to that era; regarded as several of the greatest works even in our modern era. However, despite their similarities, Marlowe succeeds with the creation of Barabas who remains the ultimate Machiavellian villain
Get Access