Essay on William Shakespeare 's Othello And King Lear

Essay on William Shakespeare 's Othello And King Lear

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Much alike unity of time, unity of place was not explicitly defined within Poetics. In fact, Aristotle made no direct mention to unity of place. Instead it was an interpretation established by French and Italian classical dramatists in the sixteenth century (“Unities.”). It most likely arose due to limitations in creating representations of multiple locations in early theatre. It was clearer to confine the action to one setting. In theory, unity of place will concentrate the tragic effect, as all action occurs in one place and is directly related to that place. By principle, having multiple settings will diminish the tragic effects by spreading out the action and in result diluting its impact.
Once again, Shakespeare did not strictly adhere to the standards for tragedy. He varied his approach greatly from play to play. Unity of place is utilised contrarily in Othello and King Lear. Othello is set in two places: Venice and Cyprus. The first act takes place in Venice, but this can largely be seen as a prologue to the main action of the play. Thus the main setting and tragic effect take place in Cyprus. All events of the play occur in a central location, allowing tragic effect to be concentrated. The tragedy seems inescapable because it is confined to one place where the characters appear unable to leave for the duration. Events happening in other cities do not distract from the horror and confusion taking place in Cyprus. Once the setting of Othello moves to Cyprus, Venice goes largely ignored until the end of the play where order begins to be restored. Containing the calamity to one location, in this case, does allow for some enhancement of tragic effect. Cyprus becomes the vehicle for irrationality and disruption of order, while V...


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...tic effects. Since the audience is presented with two cases of blindness and betrayal, the feelings of pity and fear are stronger. The audience pities both Gloucester’s and Lear’s betrayal by their eldest children, but also are disgusted by the outcast of their loyal and loving children. Providing two instances of this main idea, only adds to the impact of the play instead of diluting it. Despite Aristotle’s insistence on unity of action, King Lear makes it clear that it is not entirely necessary. King Lear still achieves the effects Aristotle viewed definitive of tragedy, despite violating his major requirement. If anything, King Lear is a stronger tragedy because of this.
Despite differing greatly in tragic form, both Othello and King Lear are able to accomplish immense tragic effect. The differences are suitable due to the content matter of the respective plays.

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