Othello Vs. Henry V Essay, Research Paper
Many consider William Shakespeare England s foremost dramatic poet. William Shakespeare used existing stories as a basis for many of his plays. For example Shakespeare s Othello was based on a tale in Cinthio s Hecatommithi UN Captitano Moro. In Shakespeare s version of this play he stressed the drama in many ways. Shakespeare also significantly changed the story s ending from the original. He emphasized the qualities of love, revenge, and despair.
William Shakespeare s Henry V was not considered to be one of his better plays; it actually was the final installment of three preceding plays. Richard II and Henry IV, parts I and II all lead the reader to the plot of Henry V. Henry V was first performed in 1599 at the Globe Theater. William Shakespeare had already written, Richard II (1593), Richard III (1594) and Henry IV, in three parts, (1597-1958). Henry V completed a series of plays that covered English political history from 1398 to 1485. The preceding plays showed Henry when he was young. They portrayed how members of the lower class always accompanied him. Richard II and Henry IV depicted Henry as he learned to understand his common subjects and found his own sense of worth. Many scenes from Henry V show Henry s merciful nature and his personal beliefs on religion and justice.
In many of William Shakespeare s works he used analogous plot structure. This technique involves placing two characters is the same situation, but each character makes a different decision about the situation. An example of analogous plot structure in Othello occurs when Iago lies to both Othello and Desdemona. Iago, in his anger for being passed up for promotion, plans to destroy Othello s relationship with Desdemona. He does this by telling Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him with Cassio. In accordance with this technique Othello becomes very distant from Desdemona after hearing these lies while remains calm and denies the false accusations. Othello, known for his bad temper, ultimately becomes insanely mad at Desdemona and kills her in a fit of anger. Othello and Desdemona were both put in a situation that could have been resolved with patience and time, but where Desdemona made the correct decision of remaining calm, Othello lost his temper. After Othello murders his wife, he finds out that she was never unfaithful to him. Othello then kills himself and falls into the bed beside his wife.
Analogous plot structure creates more drama and surprise in the play. In most situations, one character is placed in a situation and makes the correct decision, while another character makes the wrong decision. An example of analogous plot structure in Henry V is when King Henry disguises himself as a soldier and meets with three men including Michael Williams the night before the Battle of Agincourt. King Henry puts himself in the situation of a soldier, to see what his men thought of him. King Henry talks to Michael Williams, and Williams questions why the King would wage this war. Michael Williams never doubts his own obedience to the crown yet he wonders if the King feels any sorrow for the soldiers who are about to die in battle. King Henry, in disguise, listens to Williams very carefully and suggests that they fight after the battle so they exchange gloves this way they would recognize each other. When Michael Williams realizes that the man he was supposed to fight was actually the King, he defends himself honestly. King Henry rewards the honest soldier with the glove, which he filled with money. King Henry was honored to see that his soldiers were loyal to him. This is in direct contrast to Lord Scroop, The Earl of Cambridge, and Sir Thomas Grey, who were the King s friends until the French secretly offered them money to assassinate the king. They would have killed Henry if they were not caught. Instead the traitors were charged with treason and killed. These men caused King Henry to wonder who he could trust. In this example of analogous plot structure the King is placed in two separate situations – one of being proud because of his loyal soldiers and one of betrayal from his friends.
William Shakespeare s writings show how jealousy respect, power, glory, and honor can create a better life or destroy a person completely. There are many unexpected consequences, which are brought about by honor and glory. Shakespeare is known for his ability to create a mood or setting where as the reader can actually put themselves in the position of the character. Being able to understand a character s emotion helps the reader or audience to see the character differently in his or her own mind.
Othello is a drama about a noble black Arab general, Othello. Othello falls in love with and marries Desdemona. Desdemona is the young white daughter of a senator. Desdemona s father hates Othello and discourages her from seeing him.
The character of Othello has certain traits that can make him seem naive and of a lower class than others he is accompanied with. During the first scenes of the play, Othello is shown as a hero of war and as a man of great honor and glory. Other characters of the play all form various opinions of Othello. Iago, the soldier who got passed over for promotion to lieutenant by Othello, explains his dislike for the general. Throughout Othello, many characters are refered to symbollicaly as animals. Othello is disrespectfully referred to by Iago as a black ram , and Desdemona is referred to a white ewe. Iago shows his disrespect and jealousy of Othello and Cassio in his first soliloquy.
Othello is shown to be a proud but dark man. He is not only dark because of the color of his skin but also dark in personality. He is referred to as having a dark personality and is of a mysterious nature. In some circumstances, Othello can be very outgoing and trusting, and he can easily be fooled or tricked. This is one of Othello s major weaknesses and it causes him not to notice what Iago has planned.
The glorious Othello is honored and respected as a war hero in the first scenes of the play. Iago, with his plan to destroy Cassio and Othello, speaks with Othello and tells him that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him with Cassio. This took a lot of convincing on Iago s part, but eventually Othello starts to question his wife s fidelity. Iago s plan is to destroy the glorious and all powerful Othello, and to have Othello kill Cassio.
During the later scenes of the play, Othello is convinced by Iago that
Desdemona has been unfaithful to him. Othello isolates himself from everyone, and he begins to think about what has happened. He only briefly speaks with Iago, thinking that he can be trusted and that he is Othello s only true friend. Othello makes an agreement with Iago stating that he will kill Desdemona for cheating on him, and that Iago should kill Cassio. Othello follows through with his devious plan and kills Desdemona. Soon after Desdemona s death, Emilia, Desdemona s lady in waiting and Iago s wife, finds Desdemona s body and tries to explain to Othello that Desdemona had always remained faithful to him. Before Emilia could finish telling this to Othello, Iago kills her.
Meanwhile, Cassio, still alive but wounded, supports Emilia s story, stating that Desdemona was never unfaithful to Othello. At this point Othello, realizes the great mistake he has made. Othello s strong emotions of love, jealousy, and hate all combined and further intensified, bringing about this tragic ending. Othello realizes that he has committed a horrific act out of jealousy and insecurity. Othello then stabs himself and dies on the bed next to his wife.
The conclusion of the tragedy shows that, in turn, all emotions can bring total destruction to any peace of mind or happiness that a character might have. Jealousy is a powerful emotion. Shakespeare wrote about just how powerful it can be and the damage it can cause. Othello reminds humans that they are very vulnerable and must accept everyone for who they are. Othello realized that by killing Desdemona, he had given up everything he had. All of his glory and honor had, at that moment, been destroyed by his own hands.
William Shakespeare s Henry V was considered to be a highly political play in 1599. The play was created in admiration of King Henry V, a character with a noble and honorable nature. This play portrays how Henry, fighting and winning battle after battle, proved his glory on all accounts.
Henry V took over the throne in the early 1400 s. At this time in England s history, civil wars had left the people in a frantic state. In order to earn the people s trust and gain their respect, King Henry learns to outgrow his adolescent past.
The young prince of France, Dauphin, sends King Henry tennis balls. The tennis balls have a symbolic meaning. The Prince intended that Henry should be out playing rather than staging war with France. In response to this insulting gift, King Henry decides to invade France.
King Henry gathers his troops and prepares them for battle. Just before his fleet sets sail, King Henry is informed that the French have paid off three of his men to assassinate him. King Henry is very surprised to find out that one of the three men was his friend, Lord Scroop. The three men are arrested, and Henry orders the execution of all three traitors. King Henry had no choice but to execute these men to protect his glory, name, and honor. King Henry now knows he has to be careful when choosing who deserves his trust.
King Charles, the ruler of France, meets with his top military leaders and son, Dauphin, to discuss their plan to stop the English invasion. Dauphin is again disrespectful towards King Henry calling him a vain, shallow, humorous youth (2.4.28). The constable of France warns Dauphin about King Henry s bravery and his glory in battle.
King Henry arrives with his soldiers at the port of Harflear and proceeded to attack the fort. Soon after the flourish sounds, the governor of Harflear asks to speak with King Henry. The governor informs Henry that Dauphin is unable to send any more soldiers and therefore will surrender.
King Charles has gathered his nobles to tell them that King Henry is defeating their soldiers and continuing his invasion. King Charles orders his nobles to gather men and meet Henry in battle. The constable realizes that the French outnumber the English, which gives the French the false impression that they can easily defeat King Henry and his army.
To prove how moral and fair King Henry is, and how he protects the reputation of the English army he allows his friend Bardolph to be executed. Bardolph was caught stealing by one of his superior officers. King Henry felt sorrow for Bardolph, knowing that he could easily spare his life, but he is a man of morals and stealing gave the English army a bad reputation.
At this point of the play King Henry is curious to see what his soldiers think of him. Henry knows that he would not be able to get an honest response from a soldier if he did not disguise himself. The King borrows a friend s jacket and walks around as if he were an ordinary soldier. Henry stops and speaks with two soldiers, Bates and Williams. Bates says to Henry that the common soldiers would rather go home because they knew that they would be killed the next day, whereas the King would be ransomed rather than killed. The other soldier, Williams, agrees with Bates, stating that the King s reason for this battle had better be worth the blood that will be shed tomorrow. When Henry hears this, it greatly upsets him.
As the French are gathering their soldiers, King Henry delivers a famous speech known as the Saint Crispin s Day Speech. He tells his men that he wishes he had fewer of them, so that each individual man could have more glory as they defeat the French army. King Henry ends his speech in stating we few, we happy few, we band of brothers (4.3.60).
King Henry meets with Montjoy, the French messenger. With most of the French military leaders as prisoners, Henry asks Montjoy if the French surrender. Montjoy then confesses the surrender of the French.
King Henry and his nobles meet with King Charles for the first time at the French court. They are meeting to discuss a peace agreement between the two kings. While the nobles are discussing the peace agreement with King Charles, Henry begins to flirt with Catherine, King Charles daughter. Catherine is hesitant at first, and she agrees to marry Henry only if her father gives his permission. King Henry ignores this custom and kisses her.
King Charles agrees to the documents, which make King Henry the legal heir to the French thrown. King Henry also will wed Catherine, therefore having an heir to both the English and the French throne. The play ends with the promise of Henry and Catherine s marriage.
William Shakespeare, in both Henry V and Othello, portrays the heights and depths of glory. Both Othello and King Henry enjoy the fame and power resulting from their glory. Glory can do amazing things for people, but it has its disadvantages. For example, Iago s jealousy of Othello causes him to plan how to destroy Othello s life. King Henry also experienced the pitfalls of glory. Three of King Henry s men attempted to assassinate him, and one of these men was his close companion. These two plays show how sometimes glory is not always what its made out to be.
Works Cited Bloom, Harold Modern Critical Interpretations, Othello
Ed. Harold Bloom: Chelsea House New Heaven Ct. 1987
Shakespeare, William Othello
Ed. Barbara A. Mowat: Washington Square Press, 1993
Shakespeare, William Henry V
Ed. Barbara A. Mowat, Paul Werstine: Washington Square Press, 1995
Snyder, Susan Beyond the Comedy: Othello
Ed. Harold Bloom: Chelsea House New Heaven Ct. 1987