Othello vs Hamlet



Shakespeare’s protagonists Othello and Hamlet are for the most part, completely unalike in the ways that they handle the many emotions thrown at them in their respective plays. Othello is the victim of a twisted villain; Hamlet bears a distinct solitude and has a tendency to procrastinate. Othello is a story centered on the manipulations of an insecure newlywed, while Hamlet is centered on an idealistic avenger of justice. Hamlet is smarter, and with maybe the exception of his confidante Horatio, is surrounded by a massive array of idiots. Othello, on the other hand, is the only idiot in the end. Despite the difference, there are a few notable similarities in the ways that Hamlet and Othello deal with emotion.
For the most part, Hamlet and Othello seem to handle anger similarly. One thing that they are both guilty of when angry is the mistreatment of women. This act was shunned in the settings of both plays. When Hamlet’s father has just died, and his brother has taken the throne and married his wife, Hamlet is disgusted. In a private meeting with Gertrude, his mother, he expresses his strong disapproval. He begins, “you have my father much offended”(III, iv, 11), and continues to berate her: “you are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife”(III, iv, 16). When she asks what makes Hamlet “so rude against her”, he tells her that what she’s done “takes off the rose from the fair forehead of an innocent love, and sets a blister there”(III, iv, 43-44). He then lambasts her for sleeping “in the rank sweat of and enseamed bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making love over the nasty sty-“(III, iv, 93-94). She cuts him off here because she is so offended. “O, speak to me no more”(III, iv, 95), she says. He continues to insult her, telling her, “confess yourself to heaven, repent what’s past/ and do not spread the compost on the weeds to make them ranker”(III, iv, 150-154). This of course is Hamlet’s attempt to try and find if his mother took part in his Father’s murder. Othello is also guilty of similar misogynistic squalor. Iago, the real villain that Othello is unaware of, has manipulated him into thinking that his wife, Desdemona, is sleeping with Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant. Iago stages a handful of situations to prove the accusation against Desdemona, and Othello is almost completely convinced. Desdemona innocently loses a handkerchief that eventually makes its way into the hands of Iago. Immediately after, the villain plants the token handkerchief on the accused Cassio, and tells the Moor that Cassio has it. Othello immediately goes to Desdemona and demands that she produce the handkerchief. “Why do you speak so startingly and rash”(III, iv, 79)? Asks Desdemona. Othello insistently keeps asking, “fetch’t, let me see it”(III, iv, 86)! And “The handkerchief”(III, iv, 94)! Until Desdemona yells “Away!” Another instance is when Desdemona is, in all innocence, trying to convince Othello to reinstate Cassio’s position as lieutenant. By this point, Iago has Othello so manipulated; the Moor thinks that Desdemona is trying to convince him because Cassio is her secret lover. When she sees him angry, and tries to quell him “Why, sweet Othello”(IV, i, 239)- He cries “Devil!” and strikes her.
Analyzing the way that Hamlet and Othello deal with revenge finds as many similarities as differences. As soon as both characters are absolutely sure of the wrongs against them or their families, they both immediately plot murder and nothing less. Othello asks Iago to furnish him “with some swift means of death for the fair devil”(III, iv, 474). And Hamlet says that for his Uncle it is “adieu, adieu, remember me. I have sworn’t”(I, v, 111). The biggest differences between the two protagonists here, is in how they execute their revenges. Claudius’ murder must be perfect. Hamlet even passes up a murder opportunity when the king is in the church praying alone. “This psychic but prolongs thy sickly days”(II, iii, 96); Hamlet doesn’t want Claudius soul to perchance slip into heaven, so he waits. In the way that Hamlet deals with revenge, one can also assess that he is an idealist. He chastises himself numerous times for his lack of haste in executing his father’s will. Thus, the time scale of this play