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Compare and Contrast the Presentation of the Destructive Love in Othello,              Wuthering Heights, and Robert Brown...
Through Catherine, Bronte explores the idea that women at the time could only besuccessful when following the social desir...
the rest to see. The use of continuous enjambments, attempts to obscure the reality ofhis behaviour to command his wife to...
comfort the narrator is feeing in this environment. This is sandwiched between questionsillustrating the narrator’s fascin...
With the insecurities Othello already has through racial discrimination, hefeels the need to impose his male identity to m...
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Literature coursework


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Literature coursework

  1. 1. Compare and Contrast the Presentation of the Destructive Love in Othello, Wuthering Heights, and Robert Brownings Poems In all three texts, the disruptions of relationship is caused by characters struggling withpersonal insecurities, evoking a sense inner conflict. Browning explores the powerstruggle between men and women, whilst Bronte questions the way in which societyimposes gender identity. In "Othello", Shakespeare illustrates irrationality as a detructiveinfluence on love, as it obscures Othellos judgement, whilst in his poetry, Browningconsiders the way the controlling aspect of relationships can cause destructive love..Shakespeare, Bronte and Browning convey the way in which the vengeful nature of loveemmerges from societals ....Shakespeare illustrates the demise of Othello through the way in which he is allowed toconform to uncivilised and irrational behaviour, reflecting societys racial stereotypes.However, in his early appearances, the courteous moor is portrayed as a gentleman withhis calm and assured nature, as he states his many great achievements. Literary criticFR Leavis describes him as the "nobly man of massive action", influenced by the claimsmade by Othello of his "Services of which I have done" for the state, earning him respectas a senior military figure. These went against the remarks made earlier in the play, asthe likes of Iago referred to him as the "old black ram", an "abuser", and insinuates thathe has "robbed" Desdemona off her father Brabantio. This correlates with theperceptions from the people of the Elizabethan era, that the blacks were barbaric.However, the changes we see in Othellos behaviour, throughout the play, couldsymbolise him succumbing to societys construction of him, as he admits "yet natureerring from itself", echoing Brabantios earlier description of Desdemonas love forOthello as "Against all rules of nature". Furthermore, this can change our interpretationof his earlier portrayal to be a brave front to hide his personal insecurities, havingexperienced racial discrimination. Similarly Heathcliff is entrapped into others depictionof him, as he is never allowed to tell his side of the story. This inherent weakness in hispersonality assembles the basis for the destruction of the love between him andDesdemona. The context in which Heathcliff was plunged in, allows him to descend towardsdestructive behaviour. Heathcliff was introduced to the Earnshaw family as "dirty,ragged, black-haired child", who was immediately disparaged by questions of parentage,mouthing "gibberish", and his dark otherness branded him a "gypsy". Nellyforeshadowed the impact Heathcliff was due to make when she claimed he "bred badfeelings" right from the beginning. In the early chapters, Hindley’s actions are rough andabusive towards Heathcliff, even referring to him as a "dog", which further dehumaniseshim. This transforms Heathcliff from an initially innocent quiet boy, to an extremelyrevengeful man. This could signify the fact that Heathcliff was a victim of circumstance,rather than being naturally evil. Here, Bronte also explored the ideas of how society andits values can overpower the individual.
  2. 2. Through Catherine, Bronte explores the idea that women at the time could only besuccessful when following the social desires of the ideal woman. Catherine is acontroversial character, who is more outgoing and free-spirited than the typical womanof the time. Her character possesses a wild passion, which is dictated by her love forHeathcliff. Catherine expresses her feelings for Heathcliff which "resembles the eternalrocks beneath" reflecting her necessity for love, as opposed to romantic lust. The use ofnatural imagery radiates a sense of timeless love, whilst the use of harsh words like"perished" or "annihilated" gives off the impression of her love being raw and wild,emphasising her inability to keep her feelings under control. Moreover, it couldforeshadow how their love eventually becomes intoxicating, destroying their lives anddisrupting other relationships in the novel. However, Catherine chooses to go on andmarry Edgar Linton, following social conventions of looking at status and background forthe most suitable husband. In contrast, Desdemona has it in her to see beyond thesocial pressure and beliefs, and can accept Othello for who he is. However, irrespectiveof their choices, the fates of both women end badly. Catherines decline shows how thiskind of female character cannot exist in that sort of world. This could symbolise the ideathat women are not in power of their own destiny, and how love became a destructiveinfluence in their livesOn the other hand, the depiction of the speaker in "Porphyrias lover" introduces theconcept of male inadequacies. Browning begins the poem, with prophetic fallacy,including harsh sounds like "Awake", "Spite" and "Vex", evoking darkness and anger,amidst a stark sense of sorrow as his "heart was fit to break" The narrator claims "Ilistened" symbolising how these imageries echoes his emotions, but its also clear thathes being passive to the situation placed in front of him. In contrast, Browning managescreates the impression of porphyria crossing this somewhat turbulent barrier to be withher "lover", as "she shuts the cold out" - the rest of society - helping to symbolise thestrength which she has shown. The language of inadequacy is also evident as thespeaker admits "She put my arm around her waist" implying that he is reliant on her.However, when he realised "Porphyria worshipped me", this made his heart "swell" and"grew", as the sense of inferiority dissipates. After her murder, his "shoulders bore" thistime, implying he has gained power in this relationship and no longer feels inadequate.However, the narrator doesnt ever truly feel that he has attained complete revenge ashe saw her blue eyes "laughd... without a stain". Perhaps this signifies a sense of powerwomen can hold within relationships. In "Wuthering Heights", when Heathcliff returns, heis described as "tall" and "athletic". The language use illustrates him as a superior andcommanding presence, portraying him in a more respectable tone than before. Itillustrates how he had to portray his identity differently, through physical appearance, toprove his worthiness in society. This could demonstrate how male inadequacies was adestructive force in their love life, which led them to commit immoral actsIAGO------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In "My Last Duchess", Browning explores the objectifying nature of possessiverelationships. Through language, the narrator intends to manipulate an image he was
  3. 3. the rest to see. The use of continuous enjambments, attempts to obscure the reality ofhis behaviour to command his wife to be killed. When the Duchess was alive, the Dukecould not control what he believed to be her overtly flirtatious nature. "This grew; I gavecommands; then all smiles topped together", as he considered her to being unfaithful.The use of semi-colons emphasises his sense of control and authority, and this reflectsthe efforts in Victorian society to mould human behaviour in context to Victorian morality.This indicates that the destruction of their love was caused by a power struggle. Theduke also points out to the portrait and the "spot of joy into the duchess cheeks" whichfurther mirrors the idea that women can not be defeated, as her personality – of whichhe tried to suppress - is still ever present beyond death. This is an element of reality hecould not disguise, and could therefore insinuate that this is still haunting him. On theother hand, in "Porphyrias Lover", the speaker attempts conceal Porphyrias covertsexuality, to try and overpower her. He uses enjambments, "--she, Too weak, for all herhearts endeavour", to signifies his belief that she should be punished for her naturalsexuality. After her murder, he objectifies her body, "We sit together now", as asymbolism of his power over her. This could also insinuate how they both wereoverwhelmed by love, which leads them to commit evil deeds.In "Wuthering Heights" destructive love is presented through the physical separation ofCatherine and Heathcliff, which incites a lot of misfortune. Catherines demise beginswhen she catches the illness which started the night Heathcliff fled. The personificationof prophetic fallacy such as "Growling Thunder" and "Violent Winds", reflects their wildnature, whilst expressing the anguish felt by the characters, as their love was brokenapart. It could also help foreshadow the darkness that was to follow. Bronte’s use ofdescriptive language "one or the other split a tree off" perhaps symbolises how theconflict of Catherines and Heathcliff’s emotions, has possibly confirmed the division oftheir love. With this, Bronte may have suggested that this caused her deterioration intoher ultimate fate, as the illness signified Catherine’s inability to survive without Heathcliff.In contrast, Edgar’s and Catherine’s love was of a superficial form, constructed throughsocietys ideal. This could illustrate how societys corrupted influence was the factorwhich prevented Catherine her happiness, and consequently caused a lot of sorrow forall those close to her. Contrastingly, in "The Last Ride Together", Browning explores theidea of making a moment of unity last, "the instant made eternity", as the narrator dwellson the significance of the present. This offers a lot of hope and optimism to the narrator,as he believes he will be content with just the memory of that moment, after it passes.However, the constant questions such as "ride, ride together, for ever ride?" couldsuggest that the narrator isnt quite as fulfilled as he desired. This suggests thatindividuals are not happy without being in a loving relationship.In "The laboratory" Browning explores the ideas of vengefulness through the inconherantlanguage. The use of parenthesis symbolises the disjointed thoughts in the narrator,displaying a sense on the character being somewhat unhinged. This emphasise thenarrators inability to control the jealousy which is driving her immoral actions. The fastpaced rhythm of the verses highlights the narrator’s excitement, which alters towardsimpatience when the moment for revenge edges ever closer. Her evil nature isemphasised when she refers to poisonous materials as "treasures", as theresinsinuation that shes incomplete without them. Browning illustrates the poisonousmaterials in luxurious colours, like "Gold oozings" and "Exquisite blue", to show the
  4. 4. comfort the narrator is feeing in this environment. This is sandwiched between questionsillustrating the narrator’s fascination by the poison. These connections the narratormakes towards threatening imagery, illustrates her struggles to deal with the destructiveinfluence of love.The use of words such as "smokes", "devils", and "poison" in the first stanza, conveysdangerous symbolism, introducing us to a darker world. Physical sounds, throughalliterations, such as "Mash...Moist" and "Paste...Pound...Powder" evokes the sense ofpower, creating the impression that the narrator is control of the situation. In "Wuthering Heights", the representation of the two houses reflect the unclearboundaries between opposing forces in society, imitating the struggle individuals facebetween nature and nurture. The description of Wuthering Heights, "Lurking","Defended", "Villanous", "Haunting", portrays the house as a stormy, brutal andunwelcoming place. This could convey the wild nature of Catherines and Heathcliffscharacter, that was formed in this hostile environment, encouraging the ungovernedpassion which dictated their love. Contrastingly, these semantics are amidstcharacteristics illustrating a sense of comfort, homeliness, and simplicity, narratedthrough words like "Primitive", "Heat", and "Light". These descriptive undertones suggestCatherines and Heathcliffs relationship wouldve thrived in this setting, providing themwith all their needs, On the other hand, Thrustcross Grange is presented as a civilised,luxurious and colourful place. However these descriptions are amongst notions such as"Shrieking", "Weeping" and "Shaking", alluding to the way in which a lot of pain andsorrow stems from that house. Thrustcross Grange could symbolise the moreconventional society and its ideals, which prohibited Catherines happiness, as sheventured towards life at the grange. However, her daughter Cathy, yearned to return toWuthering Heights re-adressing the balance by reaching towards her natural habitat.Furthermore, the two houses mirror the dichotomies of two families, who becomeintetwined through Haretons and Cathys marriage. This shows how a bit of both natureand nurture is what allows love to prevail in society. portrayal of Desdemonas rebellious behaviour, led to theaggravation of Othellos jealousy, as she became a threat to his maleauthority. Desdemona demonstrated her independence by going againsther father wished in marrying Othello, illustrating her strength in being ableto break away from the barriers of gender identity. She further venturedaway from societys norms, by marrying a moor, displaying level ofinetlligence, but also a determination to become liberated. However, whatfirst seemed impressive to Othello, soon became a planted seed of doubtas her father Brabantio states "She decieved her father, and may thee".
  5. 5. With the insecurities Othello already has through racial discrimination, hefeels the need to impose his male identity to maintain power. This allowsIagos manipulation of Othello to flourish, as anything which challenges it,escalates his paranoia. In the patriachal society which Desdemonainhabited, there was an inability to comprehend the power Desdemonagained by rebelling against the social norms and values. This made herdeath inevitable. In comparison, Browning explores similar issues in"Porphyrias Lover", as Porphyrias sense of self-control worked againsther. By taking charge of her own destiny, Porphyrias "lover" felt the needto regain power, in attempt to restore male authority. In conclusion, all three writers illustrate the result of societys callousinterruptions and manipulation of the chacarcterss lives, as it formsconstraints to their true identity.In certain poems, Browning explores the intimacies of love, and the innerword of the two individuals of the relationship. This is different from thecoventions of 19th century literature, but could potentially be due to himbeing disilliusioned with the changes taking place in society. Browninguses temporality to illustrate the characters uncertainty about the concepteternal love. In "Love Amongst the Ruin", theres early insinuations that thenarrator is coming towards the end of his life, "Quiet-coloured end ofevening smiles", "Half-asleep", "Twighlight", amidst a calm environment,as he reflects on his love. The description of the future is conveyed inhopelessness, as it"does not even boast a tree" from its glorious past,which consisted of beautiful natural landscapes like "mountains toppedwith temples". Browning uses justapositions of notions such as thepresent and past, "Solitary Pasture... City great and gay", possibly tohighlight confusion he is experiencing as his love is appearing todeteriorate. However, by the end of the poem, the narrator was content withhaving sacrificed his life for love, since "Love is best", overriding all other"Triumphs" and Glories". Similarly, in "The Last Ride Together", thenarrator is willing to give up his life "to all my love avails". All he stood for,was worth "nothing", without love. His utmost desire is for love to becomethe "instant made eternity". However, the poem ends in a question in "Ride,ride together, for ever ride?", insinuating how the narrator cannot be surethis is the case. Here, the narrator is left with an inner conflict, whilst thenarrator in "Love amongst the ruins" ends with peace.