Othello and Death Knocks: Two Essay

Pages: 3 (1045 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Death and Dying  (general)

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

Othello clearly believes he is not worthy of Desdemona -- because of his color and his age -- but rather than admit that he fears she has every reason to cheat on him with Cassio, he sublimates this (with Iago's prodding) into a conviction that she has already cheated him.

Iago is helped by the fact that Othello is a man who is more inclined to trust men than women, thanks to his military upbringing. Desdemona has forsaken her father and her family for his sake, yet Othello trusts Iago's words over hers. He has no reason to do so and has even promoted Michael Cassio over Iago to be his lieutenant. But despite his evident belief in Cassio's greater competency, because Iago gives voice to Othello's greatest fears, Othello believes the man who hates him. A combination of blindness to his own self-dislike and blindness to the goodness of women results in the tragic death of Desdemona at Othello's hands.

Woody Allen's play Death Knocks is a comedy rather than a tragedy. Yet it retains some of the characteristics of a tragedy in which the main character has a flaw of blindness to his true nature. Death regards himself as powerful and mighty. But in the eyes of Nat Ackerman, Death is a 5'7 man who has to climb up a drainpipe to make a grand entrance. Nat challenges Death to a game of gin rummy to buy him a little bit of extra time on earth, and Nat beats Death easily. Death's image of self-confidence is destroyed by Nat. Also, Death's self-aggrandizement and arguments with Nat about petty things about his height suggest that the persona of awesomeness and terror Death has tried to cultivate is a shell that hides vulnerable insecurities.

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Nat offers to allow Death to win his money back the next night, and Death immediately turns whining and petulant, complaining that he has nowhere to stay over night without money. Nat insults Death, saying that the way Death plays gin rummy he probably has a couple of extra years before Death beats him at the game. "He's such a schlep," sighs Nat as he picks up the phone and calls his friend Moe, completely nonplussed at the experience.

TOPIC: Essay on Othello and Death Knocks: Two Assignment

Both plays, despite their radically different tones, rely upon a discrepancy between reality and appearances to create a sense of drama. In Othello, the frustration and tragedy of the play lies in the fact that the audience knows that Iago is deceiving Othello, but Othello is completely blind to because of the Moor's insecurities and worries about Desdemona's chastity. The humor in Death Knocks derives from the incompetence of Death, despite his terrifying Grim Reaper persona, and the way in which Nat's greater sense of confidence renders Death completely defenseless. Othello becomes the savage person Brabantio saw him as at the beginning of the play because of his self-consciousness; Death loses his power to dominate humans when his imperfections are revealed.

Works Cited

Allen, Woody. Death Knocks. [7 Sept 2012]

http://www.scribd.com/doc/81124508/Death-Knocks

Shakespeare, William. Othello. MIT Shakespeare Homepage. [7 Sept… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Othello and Death Knocks: Two."  Essaytown.com.  September 7, 2012.  Accessed July 27, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/othello-death-knocks-two/6318504.