According to John Steinbeck, "Heroes are innocent; villains are cunning." This statement likely regards the internal aspects of characters, such as intellect, reasoning/motivation, and morality/responsibility, as indicated by consistency in action and/or articulation, as in direct speech or soliloquy. An examination of the heroes and villains in Measure for Measure, Othello, and Hamlet can determine whether Steinbeck's generalization is applicable.
Although Measure for Measure is not a tragedy by standard conventions, Angelo can be considered a tragic hero since he falls because of his hamartia, hubris. While he fits into Steinbeck's generalization of "innocent" as a victim of the circumstances created by the Duke, Angelo is responsible for his own fate. When asked "Whether you had not sometime in your life/Err'd in this point which now you censure [Claudio]," (14-15, II.i) Angelo affirms he has never felt love or passion, nor had sex. Thus, being a man of virtue, Angelo believes he has the right to impose morality upon the city: he unquestioningly enforces the law forbidding fornication. Since he is righteous, Angelo's motivation is not wrong or immoral; however, once he begins to manipulate sexual morality in his favor, his innocence decreases. Angelo offers to spare Claudio's life should Isabella engage in sexual relations with him; he claims to be tempted by Isabella's virtue, and does not recognize his own hypocrisy in proposing there is charity in sinning to save Claudio. The reduction of Angelo's virtue and righteousness continues as he sends Claudio's death warrant after he has had sex with Mariana, who he believed to be Isabella. In additio...
... middle of paper ...
...le to comedies, when considering A Midsummer's Night Dream, As You Like It, and Measure for Measure, in which the heroes are mostly virtuous ("innocent"), and the villains are devious ("cunning"); however, since the Duke and Iago are both cunning villains, Steinbeck's notion of villains is also appropriate for tragedy. More importantly, though, as previously noted, these “heroes” are directly responsible for their fall, and therefore challenge readers to consider the roles of heroes and villains in tragedy less traditionally; Othello is not cunning, nor is he innocent, and so Steinbeck's parameters exclude him. Thus, a more encompassing generalization would be that tragic heroes are responsible, and "villains are cunning" (Steinbeck).
Shakespeare, William. William Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Ed. Alfred Harbage. 1969. Baltimore: Penguin, 1994.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- No Heroes, No Villains by by Steven J. Phillips After reading the story, I found I had mixed emotions about it. To explain, when we were getting into detail and finally finding out what really happened the day of June 28th, I found myself completely interested and glued to the book. I also enjoyed the way the incident was explained because I felt like I was there watching it all happen from the great detail. I enjoyed Phillips style of writing because through his writing, he really came off as an intelligent person who is very familiar with the legal system.... [tags: Phillips Heroes Villains Review]
1002 words (2.9 pages)
- Othello and Antigone are both tragic heroes. They do great deeds and have great power or strength. For example, Othello defeats Venice's enemies. Antigone makes sure that a Theban right is a Theban due. But fatal character flaws destroy the lives of the two heroes. Both of them suffer from pride and uncontrolled passion. Othello is so proud of his integrity and courage that he doesn't recognize his violent temper and his manipulability by Iago. Antigone is so proud of her commitment to the true, the right, the proper, and the correct that she doesn't respect differing, less passionate opinions.... [tags: Antigone, Othello, tragedy, Heroes,]
971 words (2.8 pages)
- The character of Iago has traditionally been viewed as the most infamous villain in all of Shakespeare. The conniving ringmaster of the tragedy of Othello, Iago serves as a necessary catalyst for the action of the play. He takes such a principal role in the drama that the play has commonly been described as Othello’s tragedy, but Iago’s play. Scholars have disagreed, however, as to whether or not Iago can simply be described as an ingenious villain lacking all regard for morality. Many have seen some of his most inhuman or evil qualities as the very thing that makes him human; others have attributed his manipulative ambition to a deep-seeded psychological need to belong and have drawn clear... [tags: Shakespeare]
1649 words (4.7 pages)
- What is a hero. What is a villain. Although definitions vary within our global society, it is generally accepted that a hero is selfless, humble, and moral and has integrity, while a villain is corrupt or evil, incapable of feeling guilt or compassion and is guilty of committing heinous crimes. However, it should be noted that the labels of ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ are subjective, and that, in the words of Sirius Black (the falsely incriminated godfather of the titular hero of the Harry Potter series) “… the world isn’t split into good people and [villains].... [tags: afghanistan, pakistan, terrorists, war on terror]
1453 words (4.2 pages)
- In 2000, three simple words encircling a tiki torch and palm tree defined not only a television series, but a whole new culture of entertainment: outwit, outplay, outlast. When the competitive reality show Survivor first hit the air, producers Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst left sixteen Americans stranded on a tropical island, hoping only for nature to take its course and drama to ensue. No one could have predicted the phenomenon that would be a catalyst not only for reality TV, but competitive game shows set on putting people in their most vulnerable state.... [tags: television, reality TV]
3051 words (8.7 pages)
- Othello: One of Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes Othello is one of Shakespeare's tragic heroes. Othello is a well-respected character in this play. Othello is portrayed as a man with much greatness. Othello is tragic hero because he has a fault in his character that brings his death to others. Unquestionably, Othello's downfall is brought about during the course of this Shakespearean drama. Othello is a general and others such as Iago and Roderigo who are envious of the power and the respect shown to him despite his colour.... [tags: Othello by William Shakespeare]
2362 words (6.7 pages)
- Angelo in Measure for Measure Within Measure for Measure, the character of Angelo can be seen as a case study of will over moral nature. Angelo, a deputy, is given the Dukes authority to act in his behalf while the Duke is away. The story unfolds as Angelo uses the agency he's been given in ways that many men in authoritative positions have done. It is interesting to follow his line of thought and to realize that this is a man who is not unlike many others. The main conflict between Isabella and Angelo is a contemporary problem.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
1019 words (2.9 pages)
- Is a hero a person who wears tights and a cape and goes around saving the world. And is a villain a person who schemes evil plots against the hero. Even though heroes and villains might be seen differently through the eyes of individual people, we all know that not all heroes and villains are recognized for their actions. A hero can be somebody as big as Superman or someone like your mother and a villain can be somebody like Charles Manson or a fictional character such as DR Evil from Austin Powers.... [tags: essays research papers]
712 words (2 pages)
- The Dark Comedy of Measure for Measure Measure for Measure, the last of Shakespeare's great comedies, is also the darkest of his comedies, and represents his transition to tragic plays. This play differs from Shakespeare's other comedies, and is in many ways more akin to tragedy than to comedy. In setting, plot, and character development Measure for Measure has a tragic tone, however, because none of the main characters actually loses his life, this play is considered a comedy. Almost all of Shakespeare's comedies have dual localities: the real world of crime, punishment, and responsibility, and an idyllic world, where reality is malleable, and forgiving.... [tags: Measure for Measure Essays]
837 words (2.4 pages)
- Othello: How does it Measure Up? The inconsistent ranking by critics of the Bard of Avon’s tragic play Othello is the subject matter of this essay. Let’s study the possible causes of this problem. The ranking of this famous play is not cut and dried, totally clarified and undebated. A. C. Bradley, in his book of literary criticism, Shakespearean Tragedy, describes the equivocal ranking which some critics give this play: Or is there a justification for the fact – a fact it certainly is – that some readers, while acknowledging, of course, the immense power of Othello, and even admitting that it is dramatically perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest triumph, still regard it with a... [tags: Othello essays]
2389 words (6.8 pages)
- Exploring Existentialism and the Character Leanord in the Film, Memento
- Marxist Perspective on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis
- An Analysis of Hawthorne’s My Kinsman, Major Molineux
- Jane Elton's Identity Conflict in Catherine Maria Sedgwick’s A New England Tale
- Motherhood and Sin Explored in John Milton's Paradise Lost
- Inequality in Machiavelli's The Prince, More's Utopia, and Las Casas' Account of the Destruction of the Indies