Othello" by William Shakespeare, "Oedipus the King" translated by Robert Fagles, and Girl by Jamaica Kincaid. These are dense and rich pieces of writing that have stood the test of time. These works continue to influence and offer insight in the modern moment. These plays and this novel are filled with many themes, motifs, symbols, and other literary techniques. The paper will primarily focus upon themes of jealousy and betrayal, gender and power, vision, and at the heart of it all, fear. The paper will limit the scope of the comparison to the aforementioned themes and mostly primary characters within each. What do these literary texts have in common and what do they teach readers about the human condition?
Jealousy and betrayal are rampant in "Othello." Iago is very jealous of Othello and betrays his trust. He convinces Othello that Desdemona, Othello's fiancee, conducts romantic affairs outside of their relationship. Iago may be jealous of everyone in general. He certainly enjoys crafting the downfall of people. Oedipus' birth mother and father, Queen Jocasta and King Laius are jealous of their infant son. They do not want to fall prey to the prophecy; they wish it to be false. They believe they can avoid the prophecy by binding the child's ankles and leaving him to die or leave his fate to the gods. Oedipus' parents betray the trust and love parents normally show to their offspring. His parents are jealous over the power the infant may potentially have over their lives and betray him by getting rid of him. Had his parents not been jealous of Oedipus, the prophecy may not have come true. Perhaps they could have shown him love and maintained close relationships so that the baby would grow to love Laius and Jocasta, thereby negating any desire to murder his father. They could have raised Oedipus well so as to not commit incest by marrying his mother.
In Girl, the mother is deeply jealous of her daughter. She is jealous of her daughter's sexuality and vivacity. There is another example of a parent betraying their child because of jealousy of the child. Oedipus was an infant when his parents removed him from the household. Though the prophecy stated otherwise, he, as an infant, was innocent and harmless. The prophecy was not his fault. The daughter was naturally beautiful and attractive. Her beauty and sexuality is not her fault, per say. If anything, the daughter's beauty is the mother's fault; many physical traits are passed genetically from parent to offspring. Regardless of fault, the mother betrays familial trust and love. The mother further betrays the daughter by repressing her sexuality and making her feel ashamed for what comes naturally to her. The mother betrays her daughter's trust by making her feel ashamed and guilty for being vivacious. She additionally makes the girl feel poorly for being a sexual being likely because the mother desires the same kind of sexuality her daughter exudes effortlessly.
Iago could be jealous of Desdemona as well as Othello. Some literary scholars contend that Iago is homosexual and that he destroys the marriage of Othello and Desdemona because his sexual desire for Othello. Iago betrays Desdemona by eroding Othello's trust in her as well as breaking up their relationship. Iago manipulates Othello into believing Desdemona is unfaithful. These feelings in Othello contribute to the destruction of the romantic relationship as well as his acts of emotional and physical abuse. Iago is malignant and persistent. Othello betrays Desdemona. Othello's internal conflict and inadequacies manifest in his abuse of her body and spirit. His abuse betrays her love. Desdemona is jealous of Othello. She is jealous that he is a man and she is a woman. Just as much as it is today, even more so in the time of Othello, as James Brown sang, "This is a man's world." Desdemona's jealousy of Othello's power in a patriarchal society relates to issues of gender and power in the play.
Issues of gender and power are at work in "Oedipus the King." Jocasta is the queen. She is the mother and wife of Oedipus. She does her best to exercise what power she believes she has. She and Laius try to kill…