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Tragic Heroes in Euripides Medea, Shakespeare’s Othello and Boccaccio’s Decameron

The Tragic Heroes in Euripides Medea, Shakespeare’s Othello and Boccaccio’s Decameron, Tenth Day, Tenth Story

Throughout many great works of literature there are numerous characters whose acts are either moral or immoral. In the works Euripides “Medea”, Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Boccaccio’s Decameron, “Tenth Day, Tenth Story”, the main characters all carry out actions which in today’s day and age would be immoral and inexcusable. Medea takes on the most immoral act, in Euripides great tragic work.

The morale of today varies greatly with that of the time periods in which these works were written. Gualtieri from Boccaccio’s work, Othello from Shakespeare’s work and Medea from Euripides’ work were all, for the most part, just in their actions because of the view of the citizens during their time period. These people played an immense part in what was viewed as right and wrong, just as in today’s day.

In Boccaccio’s Decameron, “Tenth Day, Tenth Story”, the main character, Gualtieri wants to test his new wife to see how loyal she is to him. In the beginning of the play, it is portrayed to the readers that Gualtieri is a very well respected, moral man. After being told that it is nessecary to find a wife, Gualtieri states, “I will do as you request and so shall I have only myself to blame if things turn out badly, I want to be the one who chooses her, and I tell you now that if she is not honored by you as your lady…you will learn to your displeasure how serious a matter it was to compel me with your requests…” (Boccaccio 135).

From this statement Gualtieri is portrayed as a compassionate man. He says he will blame no one but himself if things do not work out and once his wife is chosen he orders his people to respe…

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…he commits these three immoral acts.

The Decameron, “Tenth Day, Tenth Story”, “Othello” and “Medea” are all tragic works, with seemingly tragic heroes. All three “heroes”, Gualtieri, Othello, and Medea, hurt someone close to them in order to still retain their pride or end their jealousy towards another. Although many of the trivial standards of the present world are different than that of when the authors were writing, there are many substantial similarities, therefore judging a character based on only the morals of today would be unjust.

Works Cited

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. New York: Penguin, 1982.

Euripides. “Medea.” The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York and London: W. W. Norton

The Turkish-Venetian War in Othello

The Turkish-Venetian War in Othello

According to A. L. Rowse, William Shakespeare’s Othello is one of the most perfect plays ever written (13). There is practically nothing in it that does not contribute to plot or character development (unlike Hamlet, which is filled with a large cast, complexities, and sub-plots). G. B. Harrison agrees that the construction is perfect (1058). Only two brief scenes with a clown in Act III don’t seem to advance the play any. That, and one strange plot element: the Turkish war and change of locale from Venice to Cyprus. If the play be merely about Iago convincing a jealous Othello that his wife is sleeping with Cassio, why bother having a war between Acts I and II? None of the characters are killed or wounded in the war, nor does the politics of the Venetian acquisitions affect the plot (in Act IV, scene 1, Lodovico speculates that Othello is angry because he’s called home, but we know he’s really angry because he thinks his wife is cheating on him), nor are there any speeches expounding on either the glories or horrors of war, such as there are in Henry V and Julius Caesar. Why then, in this most perfect of plays, is there such a major element as a war? What possible relevance could it have to Iago’s plots and Othello’s jealous rage? I contend that the war is extremely important–it is the very crux upon which the entire plot turns.

When we first meet Othello, he is the epitome of a calm, self-assured, non-provocative military general more concerned with honor, virtue, and his social standing than with war and battles. His very first line is, “It is better as it is” (1.2.6). This is a conservative, contented man, actually opposed to violence. Note how he breaks up the fight betwe…

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…ith Introduction. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

Vaughan, Virginia Mason, and Kent Cartwright, eds. Othello: New Perspectives. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 1991.

Wayne, Valerie. “Historical Differences: Misogyny and Othello.” The Matter of Difference: Materialist Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed Valerie Wayne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. LaMar. “The Engaging Qualities of Othello.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Introduction to The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare. N. p.: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1957.

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