Psychologically Viewing Three Plays Essay, Research Paper
From psychologically viewing the plays, Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello it seems that these three tragedies all connect. Shakespeare has a way of manipulating the audience into feeling compassionate towards acts that the usually wouldn’t be compassionate towards. These acts may include insanity, murder, or betrayal. And Shakespeare also has a way of leaving the audience to ponder what the outcome would have been if one certain event may not have happened. Shakespeare’s tragedies will certainly stick in many people’s minds and hearts for years to come because of the power and reality of Shakespeare’s characters.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a complex story of revenge, the lack of love,
and the “madness” of Hamlet. This play is fueled by the the people of the
Elizabethean and Jacobean period. It is a revenge play that included the
elements for a revenge play that the people wanted. They wanted a hero to
avenge an evil deed, scenes of death and mutilation, insanity or feigned
insanity, sub-plays, and the violent death of the hero. Shakespeare knew
what the people of this era wanted and he combined it together to create one
of the best plays of that time and all-time: Hamlet.
Shakespeare was able to make this play so great because Hamlet was a
great character. Most people could relate to what he did and why he did it.
He was a real person; mourning the loss of his father and rejecting the man
who was to take his father’s place. This play was maybe the first time that
the audience was able to come to understand the insanity of a man.
Hamlet is faced with some of the biggest difficulties a man can be
faced with. How to handle the situation with his uncle and mother, the loss
of his father, and a girlfriend who betrayed him is what drove Hamlet to be
crazy. This play enables the audience to feel a pang of sympathy toward Hamlet even when they might not agree with what he is doing.
Another key point in Hamlet is that he is very intelligent. Hamlet had many chances to kill his uncle that he did not take. They were too easy and would not completely satisfy Hamlet or the spirit of his father. Hamlet wanted his father’s death avenged; he wanted everybody to know what had happened.
This play also gets thrown a twist with the character of Ophelia. Ophelia was used in the play to show the changes happening in Hamlet’s character. We see how a man’s mother can be the ultimate representation of a woman. For Hamlet it became if my mother is a whore then every woman must be. Ophelia furthered proved this fact by obeying the wishes of her father over the Hamlet’s wishes. Hamlet felt Ophelia had let herself be used and she was now dirty. This aspect of the play allows the audience to see that Hamlet is really going insane from the whole situation he is in.
The irony behind this play is that if Hamlet was not such a great man he may have lived. If he would have taken the easy way out by stabbing his uncle in the back or poisoning his drink he could have lived on. But Hamlet died because he was a fair man.
In Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear, a prominent reoccurring theme is vision and its importance. Shakespeare portrays this theme through the characters of Lear and Gloucester. The contrast of vision in these two characters shows the difference between eyesight and enlightenment to a person’s inner feelings. Although Lear can physically see he is blinded in the sense that he lacks insight, understanding, and direction. In contrast, Gloucester becomes physically blind, but gains the type of vision that Lear lacks. It is evident from these two characters that clear vision is not derived solely from physical eyesight.
Throughout most of the play, Lear’s vision is clouded by his lack of insight. Since he could not see into other’s personalities he could never identify them for whom they truly were. When his youngest daughter, Cordelia, angers Lear Kent tries to reason with Lear, who is too stubborn to be open-minded to the insight of others. Lear responds to Kent’s opposition with, “Out of my sight!” to which Kent responds, “See better Lear, and let me still remain.”(Act I, Scene 1, line 160) Here Lear is saying that he never wants to see Kent again. If he only could see Kent for whom he really was.
Kent was only trying to do what was best for Lear, but Lear could not see that Kent’s vision is not clouded, as is Lear’s. Kent knows that he can remain near Lear as long as he hides behind the mask. Lear’s visual perception is so superficial that merely garments and a disguise worn by Kent trick him. He only learns of Kent’s honest and noble character just prior to his death, when his vision is clear. By this time, however, it is too late for an honest relationship.
Lear’s vision is also worsened by his lack of direction in life and his poor foresight. Also, he cannot look far enough into the future to see the consequences of his actions. This, in addition, to his lack of insight condemns his relationship with hi most beloved daughter Cordelia. When Lear asks his daughters who loves him the most he already thinks that Cordelia has the most love for him. However when Cordelia says, “I love you my majesty/according to my bond, no more no less”(Act I, Scene 1, line 94-95). Lear cannot see vast amount of love behind these words. To show Lear’s lack of insight even more he completely falls for the show that Goneril and Regan are putting on. The whole reason Cordelia said such simple words to profess her love for her father was because she did not want to associate her true love with the artificial love of her sisters’.
Even Kent is able to see through the dialog and knows that Cordelia is the only daughter who actually loves her father. He tries to convince the King of this by saying, “Answer my life, my judgment/ Thy youngest does not love thee least,”(Act I, Scene 1, line 153-154). Once again Lear believes his own judgment, which he only perceived from the surface of his daughters speeches.
As Lear’s anger grows from argument his foresight diminishes, also he becomes increasingly rash and narrow-minded. When Lear disowns Cordelia, he says, “We have no such daughter, nor shall ever see that face of hers again”(Act I, Scene 1, line 264-266). This is an example of how he cannot see into the future to understand the consequences of his actions. Ironically, he later discovers that Cordelia is the only daughter that truly loves him, asking her to “forget and forgive”(Act IV, Scene 7, line 85). But like his relationship with Kent it was near his death and unfortunately too late to build a new relationship with her or save himself from his awful fate.
King Lear depicts Shakespeare’s vision by demonstrating that physical sight does not guarantee clear sight. Before scratching his eyes out, Gloucester’s vision was much like that of Lear’s. He could not see what was going on around him. Instead, he only saw what was presented to him on the surface.
When Edmond shows him the letter that is supposedly from Edgar, it takes very little convincing for Gloucester to believe it. As soon as Edmond mentioned that Edgar plotting against him Gloucester calls him an “abhorred villain, unnatural, detested, brutish villain” (Act I, Scene 2, line 81-82). He does not even consider that Edgar wouldn’t do such a thing. At this point, Gloucester’s life is headed down a path of damnation similar to the fate of Lear’s.
When Gloucester loses his physical sight his vision actually clears in that he can see what is going on around him. When Cornwall captures Gloucester, he provokes him to pluck out his eyes. From this point on Gloucester is able to see better
The play, Othello was written by William Shakespeare in the later years of his career. The work of Othello was based on Tale of a Moor, a story by Giraldi Cinithos,
about a moor and his doubts about his wife’s fidelity. In Shakespeare’s play the
Moor (Othello) convinced by his jealous aid (Iago) that his wife (Desdemona) is not
Being faithful. Iago’s jealousy is motivated by his anger when he learns that Cassio of Florentine has been appointed Governor of Cyprus. He felt that he deserved this promotion and vowed to seek revenge against Othello.
Othello being a Moor commanding the armies of Venice is a celebrated general and heroic figure whose “free and open nature“ will enable Iago to twist his love for his wife, Desdemona into a powerful jealousy. Iago is Othello’s ensign, and Shakespeare’s greatest villain. His public face of honesty and bravery conceals a satanic delight in manipulation and destruction. .
The crucial moment in the play is the scene where Iago deceives Othello and induces him to fall. He does this by expanding the tactics used in prior scenes. Iago plants the seed of doubt in the Moor’s mind when he says, “Ha! I like that not “ (Act III, Scene 3, Line 35) as they came upon Cassio and Desdemona talking. He then retreats into a guise as “honest Iago” as he did in the brawl (Act II, Scene 2). When he was the reluctant truth teller who must have unpleasant news dragged from him by a determined Othello. The honesty by him being reluctant to speak is reinforced by the moralizing tone he takes with his commander. Iago actually lectures Othello about his jealousy “the green-eyed monster” and insisting that he’ll not speak slander “he that filches from me my good name / Robs of that which not enriched him / And makes me poor indeed” (Act III, Scene 3, line 158-161). At the same time he is playing upon Othello’s insecurities by lecturing him on how Venetian women are deceitful and treacherous by nature.
The seizure of the handkerchief is a great achievement for Iago in his quest to destroy Othello and was aided by his wife, who apparently has no scruples about betraying her mistress in small matters. Shakespeare will eventually transform Emilia into a voice of moral outrage, and by the final scene the audience will applaud her role in Iago’s destruction, but for now she is Iago’s accomplice. It will take a great shock to inspire outrage against him-a shock that comes to late.
Othello’s accusations and refusal to accept Desdemona’s denials are brutal and unfair, but his language recovers some of the nobility that it had lost in previous scenes. Iago’s like sorrowful laments for what has been lost replace curses, and the audience is reminded of the heroism and dignity that Othello possessed at the beginning of the play. His cry ”o, thou weed, / Who art so lovely fair, and smell’st so sweet, / That the scene aches at thee-would thou hadst ne’er / been born!” (Act IV, Scene 2, line 69-72) is a powerful expression of the love that he still holds for his wife, which has been ruined for ever by Iago’s poisons. Othello is terribly wrong, but Shakespeare demands that we sympathize with his error.
Othello’s words as he prepares to murder Desdemona reveal the extent to which he has allowed Iago’s logic to dominate his own thinking. His fury has abated, but he is left with a sense of being an instrument of divine justice. Desdemona must die, because she has betrayed him. Othello’s self-delusion is so strong that he believes himself to be merciful. He will not scar her body and he will allow her to pray because he says, “I would not kill thy soul” (Act V, Scene 2, line 34). The actual murder is one of the most painful scenes in all of Shakespeare’s plays, because of Desdemona’s manifest innocence, beauty, and purity. She proclaims to continue are love for Othello to the grave and beyond, returning to life only to gasp out exoneration for her husband.
He rejects are last gift, but his illumination arrives quickly thereafter, and the audience’s anger at the Moor dissipates as he is completely undone by the realization of his terrible error. There is no need to punish him, his horrible self-awareness (“O Desdemona! Desdemona! Dead!”) Is punishment enough. Then Othello passes judgment on himself with the courage we would expect from a military hero and loyal general, and he kills himself just as he once killed the enemies of Venice. Shakespeare allows him a final word; too, Othello reaches for Desdemona, reminding the audience of what a great love has been destroyed.
Shakespeare’s tragedies will certainly stick in many people’s minds and hearts for years to come because of the power and reality of Shakespeare’s characters. Through these characters we are able to feel emotions inside ourselves that we may have never felt before. Shakespeare’s tragedies give us an ability to connect with an insane person, the ability to know how important insight is, and to know to also trust your own feelings and not just the people’s around you.
(1995)Hamlet [Audiotape] New York: Harper-Collins
Othello [Audiotape] New York: Harper-Collins
King Lear [Audiotape] New York: Harper-Collins
Encarta 2000. [Computer Program] Microsoft Corporation.
Bevington, David (1997). The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 4th Addition. New York: Addison Wesley.