To Be in the World But Not of the World: Aye, There's the Rub

Othello is a man of action. Hamlet is a man of inaction. If Hamlet were placed in Othello's world and vice versa one could assume that both would function well in those circumstances. Othello is a man of action in a play that demands his hesitation and thought. Hamlet is a philosopher in a situation that asks him to act. The resultant drama of both plays is that neither character reacts tidily to their situations. The fact that both plays also end in tragedy may mean that neither choice of conduct is ideal. Hamlet and Othello represent the extremes of thoughtful inaction and thoughtless violence, respectively. To their detriment, both characters adhere to the logic of their world. Despite their protagonists' differences, Hamlet and Othello have much in common. Both plays deal with the betrayal of a loved one and the protagonists' responses to that betrayal. The betrayals are similar in that they involve female characters in the play and the question of their supposed infidelities. Both plays also make references to ears, hearing, and the possibility of deception in speech. Ultimately, both plays demand that their main characters be something they are not. The texts push the characters to act and react in ways that...

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