Compare the presentation of the destructive side of love in Othello, Wuthering Heights and Middlemarch The cathartic nature of love can induce all forms of emotion from intense pleasure and exultation to the deepest desolation and emptiness; leaving a person a shell of their former self. In all three texts, the selfish or malignant machinations of characters’, along with a challenging social environment collude to engender the deterioration and destruction of love. Shakespeare’s Jacobean tragedy Othello, birthed in the artistic melting pot of the European Renaissance, a period when poets such as Donne, and playwrights such as Webster and Marlowe were transforming literature in the English language. The play follows the tribulations of the eponymous tragic hero, who is almost the embodiment, of loves cathartic nature, as his love decays, a result of his fatally flawed character and the challenging social climate. In the Victorian Gothic novel, Wuthering Heights, Bronte portrays similarly flawed characters struggling against the hefty burden of social convention. Likewise, in the meticulous realist Victorian work Middlemarch it is the flawed traits of individuals which lead them to take foolish and naïve decisions jeopardising their romantic partnerships for mere social or intellectual gain. Venice, the backdrop where the drama commences in Othello is peopled with an abundant variety of nationalities; this open cosmopolitan environment enables liberty opinion to triumph in defiance of social order and tradition. Being a woman in this period means Desdemona’s opinion carries next to no bearing, yet it is a reflection of the liberty of the environment, that Desdemona feels able to audaciously declare’ that I did love the Moor to live with him, my downright violence and scorn of fortunes may trumpet to the world’, that she has abandoned the refinery and luxury available to her through a socially acceptable marriage for the adventure of a passionate love. The protagonist Othello is similarly at ease in this environment despite the pervading views associating blackness with barbarity and heathenism an Indication the impact location has over character. However, Othello is not as accustomed to the culture and corruption of Venetian society having spent most of his life in the broil of battle, making him vulnerable to individuals raised in and experienced with such corruption, however in Venice this does not prove a problem. Shakespeare shows this to be the case through his rich poetic idiom; Othello’s mesmeric tones grant him a commanding position both as a character in general and in his role as military commander. Here, his speech abounds in vivid metaphors of ‘moving accidents by flood and field, of hair breadth scapes i’th’ imminent deadly breach. The poetic sibilance in, ‘she swore in faith ‘twas strange, ‘twas passing strange, ‘twas pitiful, ‘twas wondrous pitiful’ brims with eloquence and mellifluent nobility, at this point containing numerous caesura, reinforcing the effect. However when the setting moves to Cyprus, all Othello’s vulnerabilities are able to be exposed and exploited due to his isolation. The moorland, ‘completely removed from the stir of society’ which constitutes the backdrop for the passionate events of Wuthering Heights, is similarly isolated, in the novel the nearest settlement; Gimmerton, seems like a place of some distance. Indeed, in both Othello and Wuthering Heights the isolation leaves the characters with nothing to distract them from their relationships with those in their immediate proximity, which become all the more intense and destructive. The provincial town of Middlemarch differs greatly from both Venice, and the isolated moorland of Wuthering Heights. In this insular community, there is staunch resistance to the imminent connection to the railways, which threaten to overhaul the social structures and rules of the community which have likely existed for centuries. It is declared that ‘a...
Bibliography: Bronte, E. (1978). Wuthering Heights. London: J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd.~First Published 1847
Eliot, G. (1994). Middlemarch. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Limited.~ First Published 1874
Shakespeare, W. (2006). Othello. Oxford: Oxford University Press.~ First published 1622
Word Count 3249
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