Article Title

Othello and New Comedy


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Critics agree that Othello differs qualitatively from Macbeth, Lear, and Hamlet, and some trace this difference to the play's fundamentally comic structure. One approach, for example, is to point out the similarities in the plots of Othello (1604) and Much Ado about Nothing (1598-99).1 Susan Snyder takes a different approach in her fine analysis of the way that "comic success precedes tragic catastrophe" in Othello.2 That the elements of· comedy help to create a difference in kind is an idea implicit in what M. R. Ridley says in the Arden edition:

In none of them [Lear, Macbeth, or Antony and Cleopatra] is there that implication followed by explication which Aristotle thought one of the features of great tragedy, and of which incidentally, Shakespeare was himself a master in another kind of play. The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado, and Measure for Measure have all theatrically effective plots. But Shakespeare used this form only once in high tragedy, and this is where Othello differs in structure and in effect from the others.3

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.