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Compare the treatment of the theme of jealousy in Shakespeare’s Othello and Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair.

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Compare the treatment of the theme of jealousy in Shakespeare's Othello and Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. 'Othello' and 'The End of the Affair' are fundamentally very different in their treatment of jealousy due to the genre and form in which they were created. 'Othello' is a 17th century play written in the genre of dramatic tragedy, and therefore has, to a certain extent, to abide by the rules that govern tragedy. 'The End of the Affair' on the other hand, is a novel written in the 20th century and as a result has extended character treatment and complexities of character not available to Shakespeare within the style in which he was writing. Shakespeare was writing during a period of orthodox Christian belief, this can be seen in his play where frequently Othello and Desdemona utter phrases such as "by heaven!" Religion was a clear influence on his work, and the idea of Othello's jealousy being a "monster" has strong satanic connotations that lead us to question his state of mind and morality. ...read more.


Here Greene shows Bendrix's pain and unhappiness but does not clearly show us that it is as a result of his jealousy, we are left to contemplate the issue ourselves. This extended character treatment gives the characters in 'The end of an affair' a complexity that is lacking from those in 'Othello'. Bendrix's character is a combination of that of Othello, and that of Iago. He schemes and plots behind people's backs like Iago yet we can see through his thoughts that he is morally an upright and good individual, simply torn by love like Othello. Bendrix's character is therefore much less clearly defined as either good or evil than characters in Othello. Greene wrote his novel in a period of post war rationalism, which is why the novel contains a sophisticated analysis of religion, and what it is to be good or evil, leaving the reader pondering over the characters' moral dilemma. This era that he was writing in heavily influences his treatment of jealousy and religion, juxtaposing and confusing the two at various stages in the novel. ...read more.


As 'The end of the Affair' is a novel we are allowed an insight into Sarah's mind, a possibility not available to Shakespeare in play format. This also alters Greene's treatment of jealousy, as we are able to look at it from the innocent party's point of view. Sarah says of Bendrix's jealousy, "He is jealous of the past and the present and the future. His love is like a medieval chastity belt: only when he is there, with me, in me, does he feel safe." This allows us to view jealousy from a completely new perspective, something we are never shown in the case of Desdemona. Character's emotions have a much more tangible effect on others in Greene's novel as a result and so jealousy seems to be less of a one-sided emotion in 'The End of the Affair' than in 'Othello'. The two authors different treatment of the theme of jealousy is as a result of the different societies in which they were writing, the form in which they were writing and therefore the characterisation that ensued, and the ideology that they were trying to convey. Charlie Smith 6.1 English ...read more.

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