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Similar Themes in Different Stories sample essay

Literature is universal. Literature speaks of universal human experience that readers and authors alike can relate to. Because of its universality, themes and messages in literature can be common in various texts. In fact, two different pieces of literature may exhibit similar qualities even if they were written by different authors. Such is the case for “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles and “Othello” by William Shakespeare. Both plays share the concept of uncertain vision. Othello also shares a similar concept with Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House;” in both plays, a malevolent character is responsible for the destruction of a marriage.

Literature is indeed universal, as the messages it conveys are shared by different texts. Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” and Shakespeare’s “Othello” carry a similar theme. Both plays share the theme of sight and blindness (NovelGuide). The texts illustrate how people who are blessed with the gift of sight can still be blind to what is really happening around them. Within this theme, there exists the concept of uncertain vision: the impairment of one’s perception. This impairment can result in the failure to differentiate between what appears to be and what really is.

In both plays, the lead character is characterized with uncertain vision. It is their uncertain vision that drives the play forward, and leads the character into his demise. On one hand, the uncertain vision as exhibited by Oedipus was brought upon him by fate. From the moment his fate was revealed, people tried to prevent its fulfillment by changing the course of events. According to the oracle, Oedipus was destined to kill his own father and marry his own mother (Sophocles). Despite attempts to alter fate, Oedipus still lived his life as the oracle revealed.

When a plague fell upon Thebes, Oedipus sought out a way to end it. Creon returned with word from the oracle, stating that the only way to end the plague is to punish the man who killed King Laius. According to Creon, “In this land, said the god; ‘who seeks shall find; /Who sits with folded hands or sleeps is blind” (Sophocles). This started Oedipus’ quest for the truth, which eventually led to the discovery of his destiny. When Oedipus mocked the blind seer Teiresias, this is what the latter said: “thou hast eyes, /Yet see’st not in what misery thou art fallen, / Nor where thou dwellest nor with whom for mate” (Sophocles).

The passage states that while a blind man like Teiresias knows the truth, Oedipus is completely blind from it. On the other hand, the uncertain vision in Othello’s case was presented in different way. If Oedipus’ uncertain vision was brought about by fate, Othello’s uncertain vision was initiated by man. Just like Oedipus the King, the theme of Othello is also sight and blindness. The character of Othello is the most blind, as he was convinced by Iago that his wife Desdemona was cheating without seeing firsthand any evidence of her infidelity (Shakespeare).

Rather, Othello was persuaded by Iago’s words and planted scenarios. The latter’s efforts impaired the former’s judgment, disabling him to distinguish between his wife’s truth and his colleague’s lies. In Act V Scene II, Lodovico said to Iago: “This is thy work: the object poisons sight” (Shakespeare). This passage states that it was Iago’s actions that altered Othello’s perception and poisoned his mind. Thus, Iago was responsible for Othello’s uncertain vision. Shakespeare’s “Othello” is also similar to yet another play, “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen.

In both plays, a character seeks to ruin a marriage. In Othello, it was Iago who ruined the marriage of Othello and Desdemona. In A Doll’s House, it was Nils Krogstad who sought to break up Nora and Torvald Helmer. However, the difference lies in the motive of each character. Iago wanted to ruin Othello’s marriage as revenge. In Act I Scene 3, Iago directly expresses his feelings for Othello: “I hate the Moor” (Shakespeare). Iago has two main reasons to hate Othello: first, he married Desdemona whom Iago loved, and second, he chose Cassioto be the lieutenant instead of him.

He wanted to punish Othello by making him accuse his wife of infidelity. In Act 2 Scene 1, Iago states: “Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor/ At least into a jealousy so strong/ That judgment cannot cure” (Shakespeare). In Act I Scene 3, Iago, he makes his intentions clear: “After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear/ That he is too familiar with his wife. / He hath a person and a smooth dispose/ To be suspected, framed to make woman false” (Shakespeare). Because he made Othello suspicious of Desdemona, Iago was indeed responsible for the failure of Othello’s marriage.

On the other hand, Krogstad never planned to ruin the marriage of the Helmers. He was working at the same bank where Torvald Helmer works, and his employment was terminated because he was accused of forgery (Ibsen). He was desperate to keep his job; when Nora refused to help him, he was forced to reveal to Torvald the debt that Nora owed him. He never intended to destroy the marriage; he was simply trying to remain employed. In Act I, Krogstad said to Nora: “My sons are growing up; for their sake I must try and win back as much respect as I can in the town.

This post in the Bank was like the first step up for me—and now your husband is going to kick me downstairs again into the mud” (Ibsen). Krogstad thought that blackmail was the only means through which he could keep his job. In Act II, he said: “I want to get on, I tell you. I want to get into the Bank again, in a higher position. Your husband must make a place for me” (Ibsen). Unlike Iago, Krogstad was not responsible for the demise of the Helmers’ marriage. What really ended the marriage was Nora’s realization that she was merely a doll in the house. In the words of Nora to Torvald, “You have never loved me.

You have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me” (Ibsen). “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles, “Othello” by William Shakespeare and “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen are three distinct plays by three different authors. Despite the apparent difference, all three works are connected because of inherent similarities. The first two plays are similar in relation to its theme, while the last two plays are alike because of the role of a character which is instrumental in the destruction of a marriage. Indeed, literature proves its universality through the unintended similarities embedded in different texts.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House. ” Project Gutenberg. 22 Feb. 2004. 3 Sept. 2008 . “Novel Analysis: Oedipus the King. ” NovelGuide. 2008. 3 Sept. 2008 . Shakespeare, William. “Othello. ” The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. 2000 Nov. 13. 3 Sept. 2008 . Sophocles. “Oedipus the King. ” Trans. F. Storr. Project Gutenberg. 1912. 3 Sept. 2008 .

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