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Comparing of Shakespeare’s Othello and Volpone

Othello Compared to Jonson’s Volpone

Both Othello and Volpone are set in Venice, well known for its wealth, power, and justice. Shakespeare called Venice the Whore of the Adriatic, for many different reasons: it is a port city, with many ships coming and going; it is also a corrupt city , with much pollution–not only of the actual enviornment but the soul as well.

In Volpone the corruption that is planned between Volpone and Mosca is evident from the beginning. The two are taking advantage of their kinsmen’s weaknesses–gullibility and an all-out lust for money. This is similar to Iago taking advantage of Othe llo’s gullibility and jealousy in order to gain Desdemona. In Volpone, Mosca and Volpone are swindling people out of money while making them believe they are to become the sole heir of Volpone’s vast riches when he dies. The situation is the same in Oth ello, but Iago longs for leadership capabilities and a title. Iago longs to be in charge of the Mercenaries as he believes he is more qualified for the position than Othello. Much of this is brought on by Othello’s race and his love for Desdemona; he i s a Moor who loves a white woman. Both plays, being filled with bribery, deceit, lies and hate, are best set in Venice which shares many of the same traits.

Another trait that is shared is the theme of prostituting women. Venice was known for its courtesan class, a group of well-dressed prostitutes. In both plays the virtue of a young woman is compromised by men seeking to increase their own fortunes. I n Volpone, Corvino makes a whore out of his wife Celia by offering her to the men around town, and in the play’s climactic scene, to Volpone himself. In either instance, Corvino is thinking of his own financial gain and not of the injustice he brings to his wife.

Self Reliance – Society never advances

Self Reliance – Society never advances

“Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. … For every thing that is given something is taken.” Emerson, “Self Reliance”, p 169

I agree with this statement, and it frustrates me to no end. Our country is screwed up in every direction one looks. People are starving while others have too much money to spend. Our population is out of control. We pollute to no end. Ours is one of the best countries in the world? Society’s tumors seem to keep growing but I want them to end. These problems disturbed me to the point of depression when I discovered them but now I can handle my knowledge. One thing that has helped me is learning about American history. I thought that we teetered on the brink of imminent collapse with budget, environmental, and social problems, but I have learned about the problems that America has dealt with over the years. Now I know that this time period is no worse than the past.

Yes, no worse than the past, but like the quote suggests, no better either. We keep trying for advancement, starting new social programs and developing new scientific solutions. Sometimes we make a little headway. When penicillin was discovered, it was a great boon to the medical industry. We are well on the way to loosing that gain as anti-biotic resistant microbes invade our bodies. We have eliminated slavery and segregation but the gap between the rich and poor has grown to compensate for this victory. We make scientific progress yet there are more ox-carts in use across the globe than there ever have been in the history of mankind. Are we actually making progress? I write this on a machine more powerful than the entire computing power of the world just sixty years ago.

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