Moral and Ethical Dilemmas in Marlowe's Dr. Faustus and Shakespeare's Othello

Moral and Ethical Dilemmas in Marlowe's Dr. Faustus and Shakespeare's Othello

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Moral and Ethical Dilemmas in Marlowe's Dr. Faustus and Shakespeare's Othello



We can find major moral or ethical dilemmas in both Dr. Faustus and Othello. In Dr. Faustus, the major dilemma comes about because the character Faustus desires to have extensive knowledge to use for his own benefit for 24 years. Faustus sells his soul to Mephostophilis (a representative of the Devil/Lucifer/Prince of devils). In Othello Iago (Othello's ancient, a villain) brings on the major dilemma. Iago pretends to be friends with Roderigo, tells him he should be the one with Desdemona and that he can arrange this for money. Therefore, what we can see so far is that in Dr. Faustus the moral dilemma is lust and in Othello the moral dilemma is greed for power or maybe Iago's envy of Othello's power.
Faustus' moral dilemma is brought on by his own lust. He desires to have things that were never meant to be his, such as power to rule kingdoms, and he is willing to do anything to obtain them including selling his soul. Faustus considers himself to be a skilled magician and calls on the devil in a God cursing chant to obtain the knowledge he desires. When Mephostophilis appears Faustus bids him to serve his wishes for twenty-four years. Although, Faustus is warned by Mephostophilis to repent and never call upon the devil again he doesn't listen and tells Mephostophilis to go to Lucifer and get the approval. Mephostophilis returns to get Faustus to sign a contract with Lucifer in his own blood. After Faustus signs the contract he speaks the last words said by Jesus as he died on the cross "It is finished". These words give Faustus thoughts that he should not continue this contract but his greed overcomes him and he finishes the delivery to Mephostophilis. Faustus continues with his greedy desires for the allotted 24 years but when his time is up he wishes he had not signed the contract because he did not prosper from his greedy act but his time has expired and Mephostophilis has come to collect his soul.
In Othello, the moral dilemma comes by way of a villain, Iago. Iago wishes to be the person with the power and as long as Othello is the general, Iago will never be able to have the power he desires. Iago and Roderigo go to Brabantio's (senator, father to Desdemona) house to inform him that his daughter has left in the night to be with Othello.

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However, Brabantio eventually gives Othello permission to have his daughter. This enrages Iago but he keeps it hid so that he can use his cunning and devious ways to devise another plan to remove Othello from the position he desires. Iago devises a plan to get Othello to believe that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. However, just when it seems that Iago's plan is picture perfect it all blows up in his face but not before Othello kills Desdemona. When the play ends all the major characters in Othello are dead, including Iago and his wife Emilia (Desdemona's handmaid).
In both plays the major moral dilemma was a form of greed. In Dr. Faustus the character, Faustus wants extensive knowledge to use for his own benefit. In Othello, Iago's greed or hunger for power drives him and he doesn't care who he hurts or how badly as long as he can get to his goal. Both, Faustus and Iago went to the extremes to get what they wanted and both had to pay the ultimate price in the end, Faustus lost his soul, and Iago lost his life.
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