Critical Lens Essay
“All literature shows us the power of emotion. It is emotion, not reason, that motivates characters in literature,” as said by Duff Brenna. This quote means that characters act on their emotions rather than on logic. They do not think before they act, they just react to the situation. This quote is true based on many pieces of literature. Two pieces in particular that prove this are the play Othello by William Shakespeare and the play Medea by Euripides. In the Shakespeare play Othello, the protagonist is fooled by his best friend, the antagonist Iago, into thinking that his wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him.
Iago tricks Othello into thinking she is unfaithful. Othello then decides that the only way he can deal with her unfaithfulness is by killing her. Rather than questioning whether or not Desdemona did cheat on him, Othello acts on his emotion. He does not think his plan through; each conflict that he deals with is handled through his blinded emotion rather than his logic and reasoning. In the tragic end, Othello realizes that everything was a lie and he was tricked by Iago. In his last action based on his emotions, he killed himself.
The play, Medea by Euripides deals with the same type of protagonist. Medea, the great sorceress was betrayed by her husband, Jason. He promised her a happy life in his home country, but later leaves her for a new woman. He tells her that he is marrying the princess to secure his family line, but it is a lie. Medea is so hurt by his betrayal that not only does she kill his bride to be, but she also murders her children. Both decisions were made out of emotion; she was jealous of the princess and she didn’t want her sons to deal with her shame.
She did not think clearly about either murder, she acted based on her emotions at the time. Tragically, again, people died because the protagonist did not think their plans through. Both plays deal with characters acting through their emotions. If Medea or Othello had taken the time to think about their actions, then each play would not have ended so tragically. Othello kills himself because of what he had done and Medea flees the country, alone, because she fears her life is in danger.
This illustrates that characters who act through their emotions are later punished in one way or another. “All literature shows us the power of emotion. It is emotion, not reason, that motivates characters in literature. ” Duff Brenna is stating that all characters tend to act without thinking. By doing so, often times they regret what they have done and makes them act out again. In the case of Medea and Othello, both characters committed murder based on an emotion and later on regretted it.