Shakspere and his coevalss were composing during a clip of great flux in power. Queen Elizabeth I had non produced an inheritor, intending King James VI of Scotland was foremost in line to the throne of England, doing unprecedented political jobs and a power-shift towards Scotland and a united land. The English Renaissance period was at its flood tide, and dramatists in peculiar held societal power and influence over the uneducated multitudes they entertained. It was an age of geographic expedition and escapade, with England deriving more economic power over other states, and the military growth stronger. This new sense of national and personal power is apparent in the authorship of the clip ; dramas frequently dealt with the political orientation of power, how it affects the person and society, and some went to the extent of researching the negative effects of excessively much power. Two dramas that look at these constructs are William Shakespeare ‘s Othello, the Moor of Venice ( 1603 ) and Christopher Marlowe ‘s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus ( 1604 ) . Othello is a drama based all around power: those in power, those seeking it, the power of linguistic communication, and how power destroys lives. Doctor Faustus is a more critical scrutiny of the nature of power, and the consequence of excessively much of it being bestowed upon a mere mortal adult male. It is for these grounds that I shall be looking at these two dramas.
Othello, the Moor of Venice was foremost performed on November 1, 1604 in London, and has proved an abiding drama. The secret plan revolves around three chief characters: Othello, a general in the Venetian ground forces, his married woman Desdemona, and his friend and subsidiary, Iago. Othello holds both military and societal power: he is respected as a General and controls an ground forces. It is his retention of this power that one could reason is the footing of the secret plan, as Iago is seeking Othello ‘s power. Othello has a steadfast sense of his topographic point in society ; he is a retainer of the province, but Iago resents his ain place, and is rather acrimonious about the fact that ‘We can non all be Masterss ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 1: 43 ) . However, Othello could besides be seen as being corrupted by his power. He desires command over everything, even his fate ( hence his self-destruction ) , and is therefore unsure of how to respond when the events of the drama spiral out of his control. Another influence that Othello holds, and reciprocally everyone holds over him, is his ethnicity as a Moor. It bestows upon him a repute as a awful combatant, and a adult male ruled by his emotions, but besides makes him susceptible to racist comments and accusals of unfaithfulness. Howard and O’Connor posit that ‘Othello is both hero and foreigner because he embodies non merely the norms of male power and privilege represented by the white male. . .but besides the endangering power of the foreigner ‘ ( 2005: 153 ) . This power of the foreigner is barely an issue at the beginning of the drama ; he is merely accepted as if he were Caucasic. It is non until other characters are angered by his matrimony to Desdemona that it becomes a job and his race starts being used as an abuse against him with dirty intensions, e.g. ‘an old black random-access memory is tupping your white Ewe ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 1: 90 ) . This is where Desdemona ‘s power lies ; she is the bracing force and the key to his credence by the white population. He is accused of witchery by her male parent, as a white adult female in her right head would ne’er fall in love with a Moor, but Desdemona defies her male parent and stands against society. Despite her young person and soft nature, she exhibits an Fe will and strength of belief in her actions.
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The function of the adult females in Othello is an interesting 1. The traditional Elizabethan position was summed up by John Knox when he said that ‘in her greatest flawlessness adult female was created to be capable to adult male ‘ ( 1999: 12 ) Young misss were taught that they had to obey their male parent, this meant that adult females by and large grew up to instinctively obey work forces. They were taught that their exclusive intent in life was to get married and look after their hubbies, and that God had commanded them to be obedient to work forces. This means that the power of the adult females in Othello is rather complex. Desdemona, for illustration, should be more loyal to her male parent than her hubby in conformity with patriarchal order, yet she defies him to be with Othello: ‘My baronial male parent. . . to you I am bound for life. . . but here is my hubby ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 3: 180-185 ) . She is still being submissive to a male ; the lone power she truly holds is in make up one’s minding which adult male. Desdemona has more of a sexual power. As Kernan puts it: ‘Throughout, a adult female ‘s power is less societal or political ( though it may hold societal and political branchings ) than emotional ‘ ( 1998: 193 ) . It is obvious that Desdemona holds something over Othello, the power of sexual attractive force. She is the beginning of his green-eyed monster and basically his harmatia: loving her proves his ruin. In conformity with Elizabethan political orientation nevertheless, she is treated as an object to be possessed, and all work forces covet her, therefore adding fuel to Othello ‘s intuitions, therefore her ain sexual power is both authorising and undermines her.
This is the chief difference between Emelia and Desdemona. Emelia ‘s matrimony to Iago is mostly based on point marking and one upping each other. She believes herself equal to Iago, stating ‘let hubbies know/Their married womans have sense like them: they see and smell/And have their roof of the mouths both for Sweet and sour/As hubbies have ‘ ( Act 4 Sc 3: 93-97 ) . She understands the power that adult females can keep over work forces, and that merely through their hubbies do the adult females have power, so it is of import they know how to pull strings them. Emelia is good at this: although she states she would perpetrate criminal conversation if the monetary value were right, and makes a list of the defects of work forces, she realises she needs Iago to retain power for herself. She is a stronger character than Desdemona as good, in that she is non afraid to reply back to work forces, reasoning with both Iago and Othello when she believes herself to be right. Bianca besides serves as a polar antonym to Desdemona, as her power over work forces prevarications entirely in her gender. Bianca ever utilises her muliebrity, as a courtesan work forces come to her alternatively of frailty versa, and she is rather unblushing about it. Although immoral by Elizabethan criterions, it can be argued she holds the most power of all the adult females. She has no adult male to reply to, she is ferociously independent, and work forces come to her when they want something. Another challenging facet of the power of Desdemona is in her decease. Desdemona ‘s decease is rather incongruous with her character, as it is inactive and she blames herself: is she brave or hapless? Even after Othello has suffocated her she still tries to come to his defense mechanism, staying loyal to her adult male until the terminal, hence, although she comes across as a strong and powerful adult female, Desdemona still conforms to the Elizabethan ideal.
Two of the most of import powers at work in the drama are jealousy and linguistic communication and Iago is a maestro of making both. This puts him in the place of the most powerful character in the drama ; it can be said that when he is non talking the secret plan slows down. Iago ‘s chief feature is his longing for power. He resents the societal power and privileges that the opinion and higher categories have, and he plots Cassius ‘s ruin for being promoted, as he feels he should be the one progressing up the societal ranks. Iago harbours bitterness towards Othello because he has the power and privilege that Iago craves. Othello is successful, a well-thought-of leader, a ferocious combatant, and easy wins Desdemona ‘s bosom and devotedness, whereas Iago is invariably working at his matrimony with Emilia. Othello, hence, is the mark of Iago ‘s enviousness and he plots to destroy those around him in an effort to destruct Othello. Iago ‘s most digesting power is his apprehension of human nature. He works with people ‘s ain nature, and ne’er pushes them to make anything they were n’t already predisposed towards. This is why he is effectual as a operator: he is able to foretell how the other characters will respond to changing state of affairss, and uses those reactions to his advantage.A A good illustration of this is the power Iago holds over Roderigo, who gives nil to Iago that he was non already willing to give for the hope of achieving the love of Desdemona. Roderigo ‘s defect is believing that Desdemona can be bought and sold like a ownership, which could be seen as disputing the typical Elizabethan impression of adult females as objects. Each of the characters who come into contact with Iago autumn victim toA his or her ain failings: theyA are all destroyed by frailty. They may hold all the power they could want, like Othello, but in the terminal they are susceptible to themselves and human nature. Another power of Iago ‘s is his moral dichotomy. Mentions are made throughout the drama to his morality: ‘Honest Iago ‘ ( Act 2 Sc 3: 325 ) ; ‘A adult male he is of honestness and trust ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 3: 284 ) ‘And what ‘s he so that says I play the villain/ When this advice is free I give and honest ‘ ( Act 2 Sc 3: 336-337 ) . The lone power that a adult male like Othello can esteem is moral power, and when confronted by that in the individual of lago he is incapacitated before its sway. Andrew Bradley says that ‘the ultimate power in the tragic universe is a moral order ‘ ( 2008: 44 ) , and this is surely the instance in Othello. The characters all adhere to a moral codification except Iago ; his power is his ability to lie. No one sees any ground to doubt him, they have ne’er encountered a ambidextrous personality like his, and therefore Iago succeeds because he has the power to exceed the boundaries of the genre and the moral bounds of human nature.
Another illustration of a adult male who strives for power no affair what the cost is Faustus. The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus is a drama based on the Faust fable, which inside informations a adult male selling his psyche to the Satan for power and cognition. The drama is by and large seen as a warning about the dangers of adult male geting excessively much power, but besides against the squandering of power, and to an extent, the merciful power of God. One of the chief thoughts running throughout Doctor Faustus is absolute power perverting perfectly. Faustus is consumed by the power at his fingertips, and in giving his psyche he condemns himself to damnation for a mere 24 old ages of utilizing and mistreating this power. There can besides be analogues drawn between Faustus and Lucifer: both are destroyed by seeking more power than was theirs to hold, both turn their dorsum on God, and Jeffrey Russell claims that ‘Faustus ‘ original wickedness is the disdainful desire to obtain cognition for its ain interest and for the interest of the power it gives ‘ ( 1990: 64 ) , which is much akin to Lucifer ‘s original wickedness of pride. Despite this though, Faustus comes across as a sympathetic character for the most portion. The audience sees how he wastes the power he is given and turns his dorsum on God merely to play buffooneries, and although his destiny is unsure, it is by and large accepted he is condemned to hell. This may come across as unfair, as he did n’t make anything peculiarly awful with his power. Early in the drama, before he agrees to the treaty with Lucifer, Faustus is full of thoughts for how to utilize the power that he seeks: ‘all things that move between the quiet poles/Shall be at my bid ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 1: 78 ) , and ‘I ‘ll be a great emperor of the world/And make a span through the traveling air, /To pass the ocean with a set of work forces ; /I ‘ll fall in the hills that bind the Afric shore ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 3: 104-111 ) . Though they may non be the most admirable programs, however they show aspiration and do his intriguing seem more moral. However, one time Faustus additions the power that he so desires, his seems to lose his aspiration. Alternatively of the mighty plans he made he spends his clip executing fast ones, and takes delectation in playing practical gags on provincials. His power has non precisely made him malevolent and immorality, instead his lone corruptness is in his aspiration being sapped, and this is where the sympathetic response is rooted: all he has done to merit damnation is waste his clip.
However, there is a less sympathetic side to Faustus every bit good. Christa King notes that ‘An of import facet of ‘alchemical thaumaturgy ‘ is that it elevates the 1 who patterns it into a place of about supreme power ‘ ( 2008: 93 ) , and yet this is non plenty for Faustus. His ground for desiring to pattern thaumaturgy in the first topographic point is that he has reached the bounds of chemistry, maths, star divination, and the other scientific disciplines, and he desires to cognize more. He resents the fact that ‘Yet art 1000 still but Faustus, and a adult male ‘ ( Act 1 Sc 1: 24 ) , and therefore in his hunt for power he is non ruled by passion, but by cold logic as he talks himself out of the possible delectations of a celestial hereafter, and rationalises that his psyche is a just deal for the power he seeks. He is so consumed by this desire that he claims the power given to him from Lucifer is really his ain: ‘My gracious Godhead, I am ready to carry through your petition, so far forth as by art and power of my spirit I am able to execute ” ( Act 4 Sc 1: 36-37 ) . Act 2 is of import as it continuously makes mention to Faustus ‘ failure to accomplish his ain power, and that everything he wishes for must be granted by the power of Satan: in Act 2, Scene 1 Mephistopheles declines his petition for a beautiful married woman, and in Act 2, Scene 3 he refuses to state him who created the existence. Grande posits that ‘Faustus ne’er succeeds in assuming. . . the diabolic imitation which he has grasped ‘ ( 1999: 103 ) , and Faustus does finally gain he has sold his psyche for an empty power. His concluding monologue reflects this as he says ”Fair nature ‘s oculus, rise, rise once more, and make/Perpetual twenty-four hours ; or allow this hr be but/A twelvemonth, a month, a hebdomad, a natural twenty-four hours ‘ ( Act 5 Sc 2: 72-74 ) . Faustus wants clip to halt or decelerate down, to detain his inevitable damnation, but the manner one line of poetry tallies into the following serves merely to speed up the beat, about signalling the inanity of wishing. Faustus realises that he has no power over Lucifer stating ; ‘The stars move still ; clip runs ; the clock will strike ; / The Satan will come, and Faustus must be damned ‘ ( Act 5 Sc 2: 76-7 ) . After the clock strikes the half hr, Faustus pleads with God to put a bound on his clip in snake pit, eventually gaining that his mortal power is nil compared to the omnipotence of God: ‘Let Faustus live in snake pit a thousand old ages, / A hundred 1000, and at last be saved ‘ ( Act 5 Sc2: 103-104 ) . He throws himself upon the clemency of God, the ultimate power. One of the most interesting facets of the address is the manner it marks a full circle. The dream of power that Faustus expressed in his first monologue, his desire to be more than person, to be a god amongst work forces, is reversed. As he faces his infinity in snake pit, he wishes that he were less than homo. After his destiny is sealed, the epilogue, like the prologue, begins with the chorus admiting Faustus ‘s illustriousness, but besides sends a warning to the audience that his destiny is what awaits all those who ‘practise more than heavenly power licenses ‘ ( Epilogue: 7-8 ) . David Bevington believes that ‘Doctor Faustus can be seen both as an object lesson of hubris and as a dark guess on what is unbearable and tragic about godly bounds placed on homo will ‘ ( 1998: 12 ) , and this is basically the calamity of Faustus, the desire for more power than God will let, and the deathly effects of taking for omnipotence.
Both of these dramas appear to be reprobating and analyzing the annihilating effects of power. Othello shows how powerful emotions can be, how they can overturn common sense and destroy people. It besides shows how the desire for power corrupts, and a similar subject is seen in Doctor Faustus: both Iago and Faustus strive for more power than they ‘ve been given, and in both instances this is their ruin. However, Doctor Faustus and Othello besides give illustrations of good usage of power, for illustration disputing the Elizabethan impression of a weak adult female by giving them the power of gender in Othello, Doctor Faustus conforming to the political orientation that God is almighty, and even the most powerful rely upon him for grace and clemency. They both besides cleaving to the thought that those in places of power have earned it, and a individual can non merely rip off their manner into power, therefore reenforcing the societal category system that was prevalent in the Elizabethan epoch and helping as a warning for the audience to cognize their topographic point.