Sunday, January 1, 2012

Othello vs Wuthering Heights

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The real victims of the green eyed monster in Othello and Wuthering Heights are those who feel the jealousy rather than those on whom revenge is taken.

The obvious victims in Wuthering Heights are those on whom revenge is taken. They are manipulated, hated and abused. But their suffering is only temporary, and each of the characters escape in some form or another. Thus the victims are those who feel the jealousy, namely Othello, and Heacthcliff. Each of these characters destroy their own lives as a consequence of taking revenge.

Othello is at first a calm, controlled, military man who makes rational decisions � “ Let him do his spite; My services which I have done the signiory shall out-tongue his complaints” and he is admire d by his superiors, referred to by the Duke as Valiant Othello”

Our first impression of Heathcliff is not so favorable, he is described as a ‘ dirty, ragged, black haired child” But later in life he leaves Wuthering Heights and improves himself. As Nelly says “ He has grown a tall, athletic, well formed man…his countenance…was intelligent.. and his manner was even dignified.”

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He had created a new and better life for himself, away from Wuthering Heights but is drawn back by his love for Catherine.. But she is married to Edgar and Heathcliff’s jealousy of Edgar takes him over and control him, making him ruled by passion and revenge. His revenge extends to other members of the Linton and Earnshaw clans and we even see his vengeful passion directed at Cathy, his great love Catherine’s daughter � “at this point he seemed ready to tear Catherine into pieces.”

Othello is also ruled by the same passion that stems from jealousy which we can see in a similar outburst he makes, about Desdemona his former true love � “ I’ll tear her all to pieces!”.

We can see the extent to which he has degenerated from his calm self through his language. From the eloquent and controlled way he spoke to everyone, such as addressing the senators as“ most grave , noble and reverend signiors’, he becomes crude and passionate, exclaiming to Desdemona “ O lewd minx !”. He not only degenerates mentally but also physically, as he is seen having fits, and spiritually because he is prepared to deviate from the strong Christian social conventions of the time, and commit the sin of murder. So, he ruins his entire life, destroying his mind, his body, his morality and social standing all from the passion derived from his jealous.

Likewise, Heathcliff life is also the ultimate victim of his own revenge. He is angry with Hindley for the misery Hindley caused him when Heathcliff was a boy. He suceeds in his revenge against Hindley, owning all his property and gains control over his son Hareton. Heathcliff is able to corrupt Hareton, letting him run wild and uneducated. But although this provides him with some satisfaction, his association with Hareton only serves to torment Heathcliff further, as he himself admits “his (Hareton) society is of no benefit, rather an aggravation of the constant torment I suffer” because of Hareton’s startling likeness to Catherine and the fact that as Heathcliff himself says “ Hareton seemed a personification of my youth” which remind him of what he has lost whilst in the pursuit of revenge.

His treatment of Catherine also goes sour for the same reason, she only serves to reminf him of her mother, who he lost in the pursuit of revenge.

The loss of Catherine is cause of Heathcliffs torment . Through the first half of the book the idea that he and Catherine are twin soulss is constantly prented, both by him and Catherine, who says “ I am Heathcliff”. They feel they cannot exist without each other. Catherine says “But Heathcliff through his actions towards Catherine after his return, forces her to make a choice, and in the end she carries out her own petty revenge, declaring ‘ I’ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own”. And so she dies, leaving Heathcliff alone in the world without his other half, a victim of the jealousy that drove him to instigate her decision.

Edgar, the object of Heathcliff jeaouly, is only a victim for a temporay time. He loses Catherine but is “ too good to be thoroughly unhappy long. Time brought resignation and a melancholy sweeter than common joy.”He loves Cathy and lives a mostly enjoyable life, toubled slightly by the confrontations with Heathcliff over Cathy and Linton but Cathy tells him that “ she should be happy with young Heathcliff” and Edgar “died peacefully .. and entirely without a struggle”

Cassio, the object of Othello’s jealousy is also only a victim for a temporary time. He escapes his assasination attempt and is promoted past his lost position, to Othellos job, as is told to Othello by Lodovicio “ Your power and command are taken of and Cassio rules in Cyprus.”

Desdemona is a victim of Othello’s jealousy because she is murdered by him. But she has managed to escape the torment his revenge was causing her, with her morals and beliefs still intact which we see as she dies, her last words are in response to the question “ Who hath done this deed ?” but instead of revealing Othello of the killer, she absolves him of the crime by saying “ Nobody but myself”. She has remaind true to her lord, has protected him and remained faithful to him, which was central to her belief and morals. Shakespeare has used lots of angel images associated with Desdemona “ O the more angel she (Desdemona)” which leaves the reader with the sense she will go to heaven. She will go there with her morals intact, so in a sense she has escaped and will be happy.

Isabella Linton escaped from Heathcliff, who tormented her and trapped her in Wuthering Heights. She begins a new life in London and repairs the relationship with her brother that Heathcliff’s marriage to her caused. She dies at the end with Edgar by her side and with the knowledge he will try and care for her son. Although her life was irreparably changed, she escaped her tormenter and is free and reconciled with her brother and the end, thus no longer a victim of Heathcliff’s revenge.

Cathy’s life is also irreparably changed by Heathcliff’s revenge against her father and his family. She is removed from her childhood, her inheritance taken, she is forced to marry an uncaring, spoilt brat, she almost never sees her dying father again and she must live in a house with nothing to do and no-one to care.. Here is seems she is a real victim of Heathcliff revenge , unlikely to ever find happiness again. But then she finds love with her cousin Hareton.

Hareton had grown up with Heathcliff as his only role model, and ironically admires him despite the fact Heathcliff is the cause of his uneducated status as a servant, having deprived him of his inheritance and even of the chance to live a happy childhood. He seemed destined to live his life as a servant unaware of what Heathcliff had deprived him of. But then he found love with Cathy.

Cathy and Hareton’s love for one another sets the tone for the end of Wuthering Heights. We see they have finally escaped Heathcliff’s, revenge, they are no longer victims, but are happy together, as Lockwood observes “ They are afraid of nothing, together they would brave Satan and all his legions”. Their property has been to returned to them and they are socially accepted.

Othello also ends with a restoration of order. The villain was caught, Cassio reinstated and Othello has died in recompense for his actions. The Senate are being notified and life will soon return to normal in Cyprus.

Both stories have ended with all the wrongs caused by the revenge of the protagonist being righted. In Othello, Cassio was reinstated and Desdemona died at least with her morals intact. But Othello sacrificed his morals, along with his mind and body, in the pursuit for revenge and thus he is the only real victim of the green eyed monster.

Heathcliff lived eighteen years of torment, with the tools of his revenge, Cathy and Hareton, in the end only serving to torment him further. He sacrificed the improved educated self he had created when he went away, and also his great love, his twin soul, Catherine. Cathy and Hareton on the other hand, find happiness together and are restored to their proper status.

The protagonists, those who felt the jealousy are the only real victims.

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