Othello and Oedipus Rex Characters’ Traits Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


At the time of contrasting and comparing the traits of Shakespeare’s Othello and Sophocles’ Oedipus, it is vital to recognize that it has to be through the means of varied theatrical activities. It has to be noted that many productions and interpretations have been issued concerning there plays as they look similar.

Even if two different writers wrote them, both Oedipus and Othello are great people; they end up meeting their downfall. They also have tragic traits as they eventually kill someone they love. This essay compares and contrasts Othello and Oedipus Rex characters(Shakespeare 16).


The two actors, Othello and Oedipus, are presented with prominent character traits. Othello, in his rein, was highly respected general, whose service record could be regarded as impeccable in the Venetian troop. On the other hand, Oedipus was just a new appointed king in his community of Thebes, guided by Tiresias within the plot.

The two leaders in the two poems were all valued and honored by their subjects in their different territories, as is clear from the settings. The two characters had to overcome several obstacles in a manner that led many of their followers to respect and honor them, and their royal positions (Shakespeare 24 & 167)

Othello can be considered to be a black member of his society. Nevertheless, at the time of the Caucasian race, he was looked upon by society as very much superior as compared to other races. Though he was much respected and honored as a general, his people still at other times, he was down looked upon just as a human being (Smith 34). The illustration of such regard and expression can be seen in the opposition of Desdemona’s father.


When performing comparison of Othello and Oedipus, one should note on the similarity in their downfalls. In the process of fulfilling the definition of a term tragedy, the main actors have to lead their downfall. The same thing happens to the two actors; Rex Oedipus and Othello. Each one of them has some difficulties in telling what has been the truth in their leadership.

Looking at Othello, he can be considered as a person who can be easily cheated. His main mistake was trusting evil individuals and losing trust in his wife. He was just easily tricked by the masterminds of Lago, who had the minds of destroying him. They said, “They are loves I bear to you” (Dana 234), and he ended believing them. While when he was just about to kill his wife, he did not believe her when she said that “My lord, you know I love you” ( Dana 234).

After the realization of Othello that he as a king has some troubles in looking at the reality, he was misguided into believing that his own and real spouse has been engaging in extramarital affairs with one of his own trusted lieutenant named Cassio. Othello ended up killing Desdemona, and after getting to know the scheme of Lago, he ended up taking his own life, hence resulting in his downfall.

On the side of Oedipus, his past actions came back haunting him whenever he was. They led to his downfall. This fact proves that Othello is blind in his senses. This is because not only ones that Lago had deceived him, and he never opened his eyes to see what was happening. This shows that “He is not observant” (Bradley 23).

As is clear from Oedipus and Othello comparative essay, in contrast to what was happening to Othello’s present deeds, that led to his dismissal. “The protagonist of the tragedy is the son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes” (Brunner 176). Earlier before making a step of defeating the Sphinx, on his way, he met and killed a small group of individuals, forgetting that his predecessor, his father, King Laius was also in the group.

At the time he was summoned by the gods to find and ensure that the murderer is discovered and expelled, he gets to know through his own investigation that he was the victim who slew his own father and that one of his wives is his mother, as he married his mother by the name, Jocasta. “In his investigation although, he was faced with many difficulties in seeing the reality that the prophets provided” (Smith 75). This investigation might have led him to take his own life later.


The two of them had the same character as being prideful before the time came for their downfall. Both of them used to be men who had accomplished many extraordinary things. On top of that, they all had excellent leadership qualities empowered unto them by the Almighty if it can be concluded.

Firstly, analyzing Othello’s character, he can be considered as one who had upstanding citizenship qualities and was very much famous due to his military successes (Shakespeare 39). Somehow, he can be regarded as holding mystical traits. This can hold more water by looking at the fact that he just came from a foreign land that taught him adventure experience that thunderstruck the Venetian community. ( Shakespeare, 47-48).

Considering Oedipus Rex character,, we can conclude that he was also, to an extent, a renaissance person. Just like Othello, he was known because of his successes in the army; on the other hand, his genuine pride came from his position as a king of Thebes was happen to be wise and confident in his undertakings. Oedipus stated that “I Oedipus whom all men call the great.” (Sophocles line 7).

Every pride of an individual can be looked upon as a catalyst, of an early stage of a downfall, which might happen in different ways. We can see that, being a pride individual, he killed his wife on the reason that she was not loyal to him at all. In the same connection, the pride, one of the traits of Oedipus, did not let the killers of Laius go undiscovered. All these led to their downfall.

Works Cited

Bradley A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy. London: MacMillan and Co., 1919. Shakespeare Online. 2009.

Shakespeare, William. Othello, the Moor of Venice. Ed. David Bevington. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 912. Print.

Smith, Shawn. Love, Pity, and Deception In Othello. Papers on Language & Literature 44.1 (2008): 3-51, 49. Master FILE Premier. EBSCOhost. Tarrant County College Library Database, Texas.

Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. X.J. Kennedy, and Dana Gioia . 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 860. Print.

Dana, Gioia. Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry Drama and Writing 6th Ed. New York: X.Y Kennedy.

Brunner, M. King Oedipus Retried. London: Rosenberger & Krausz, 2000.

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