Othello Mirroring Greek Tragedy: An Example

  • Created by: alessia27
  • Created on: 02-05-23 20:56

Greek tragedies: Desdemona and Cassandra parallels

Shakespeare takes heavy inspiration from Greek tragedy (often seen as the height of the tragic genre). An example of this is with the character of Desdemona, who can be compared to Cassandra in Greek mythology. 

Cassandra, in Greek mythology, was a tragic figure. She was  the daughter of Priam, the last king of Troy, and his wife Hecuba. In Homer's Iliad, she is the most beautiful of Priam's daughters but not a prophetess.In the tragedy Agamemnon, Cassandra appears to suggest the God to become his mortal lover  but then breaks her promise, causing his wrath. Thus, Apollo left her the gift of prophecy but cursed her so that no one could or would believe her. This is similar to Desdemona as she has a prophecy of her own death through the ‘song of willow’ scene. Emilia herself doesn’t believe in her premonition, as she only remains neutral in the conversation. This is shown when she says ‘tis neither here nor there’, which possibly suggests that Emilia favours Iago as a result of the roles that women must have in Venetian society. 

The Cassandra complex/ metaphor is frequently used in psychology and politics and  is used to refer to a person


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