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Essay/Term paper: Balance

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Othello

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Comparison - Contrast Essay
by: Aubrey Wood

In both Crime and Punishment and Othello there is a theme of
necessary balance. Crime and Punishment's theme that man must be
balanced in order to function properly is very similar to Othello's theme
that, tragically, jealousy is destructive, even to the one that holds it.
In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov's extreme intellectualism
caused him to stop functioning as a complete and balanced individual
which ultimately cost him his freedom. For Othello, it was his extreme
jealousy that caused him to become emotionally unbalanced, which
cost him both Desdemona and his own life. In both cases the extremes
create unbalance which ends up costing a lot. There is a difference,
however, and that too lies in the extremes; while Raskolnikov is too
intellectual and lacks emotion, Othello is a rage of emotions and requires
some intellect or rationality.
One stylistic device both authors used to demonstrate this
unbalance is foreshadowing. On page 84 in Crime and Punishment,
Raskolnikov says, "If they question me, perhaps I will simply tell. Fall to my
knees and tell." This foreshadows Raskolnikov's confession to the police
and his subsequent sentencing to Siberia. Raskolnikov is obviously
unbalanced if he can detachedly hypothesize about his confession.
Similarly, Desdemona's willow song foreshadows her own death. In this
way we realize Othello must be extremely unbalanced if his wife can
foresee her own death when they are still newly wed. Both
foreshadowed events would usually be considered as negative. The
main difference is that while Raskolnikov's imprisonment is temporary,
Desdemona's death is permanent.
The interesting thing about both foreshadowed events is their irony.
While both events are usually construed as negative, good things come
from both. Not until he has been in Siberia a year does Raskolnikov finally
renounce his overman theory and become complete and balanced
once again. Also, Desdemona will be able to forgive Othello and be with
him throughout eternity. What makes these happenings different is their
justness. Raskolnikov was rightfully imprisoned for his crime, while
Desdemona was unjustly murdered for a crime she did not commit.
Finally, both stories include a very important epiphany.
Raskolnikov's acceptance of love and God at Sonya's feet is both similar
and dissimilar to Othello's realization of his mistake near the body of
Desdemona. They are similar because both men gain the quality they
lacked; Raskolnikov gains emotion and Othello gains intelligence, or
knowledge. These epiphanies are dissimilar, however, because Sonya is
alive and Raskolnikov's story ends with a promise of renewed life, whereas
Desdemona lies dead and Othello adds to the death count by taking his
own life.
Both Crime and Punishment and Othello speak of balance, but
they definitely do it in their own unique way. Crime and Punishment gives
us hope that we may find balance, while Othello warns against the
consequences if we do not. Hopefully, we can find our own balance in
life with less turmoil than they.


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