In every story, we often see a colorful character in the form of the story’s antagonist. They are usually held in contrast to the story’s main character or the protagonist. This is how the antagonists were portrayed in both the stories “Othello” and “A Doll’s House.” The antagonists of the stories were set in comparison to the respective protagonists. On both these stories, the antagonists played a great part in destroying the happy marriages of both protagonists. Through their schemes and manipulation, they were able to destroy what these people held so dearly: their relationships with their loved ones.
In William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” Iago plays the antagonist role, opposing the position of Othello. Iago is depicted as one of Othello’s men, since the latter holds a high position which the former serves. When Iago felt that another man was favored aside from him, he planned to take Othello down by destroying his happy marriage with Desdemona (Shakespeare).
In the story, we can see that Iago’s source of motivation in his schemes when Othello favors his lieutenant Cassio rather than his Ancient and ensign, Iago. It was jealousy that made him conceive every evil schemes and plans that he came up with. As the story’s antagonist, we can say that Iago is very clever with his plans, managing to outwit other characters and making them his “tools” to bring down Othello. He was very successful in manipulating the main character, making him believe that his wife was cheating on him.
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Analyzing the motives of Iago, we can say that his reasons were very shallow. It was his jealousy that led to the way things happened. But there was no point to be jealous about. He has a good position in Othello’s men. The way he see Cassion being favored more than him was just superficial, since it was him that Othello believed most. If Othello didn’t believe him, then the story wouldn’t have led to the way it went. But Othello trusts Iago. He believes him so much that it has led to the destruction of his happy marriage, his downfall, his wife’s death, and eventually, his own death.
The person who suffered the most in this story was Othello. With Iago’s schemes, Othello lost his trust in his wife. His faith in their relationship crumbled as Iago stirred up his thoughts. As a man of his stature, Othello need not be faithless with his wife. But because of his insecurities, Iago managed to toy with his emotions. As a “different” man, Othello thought that his wife was not satisfied with him. He was the Moor of Venice, a dark skinned man in the land of whites. Because of these insecurities, his suspicions grew to hatred. That hatred caused him to kill Desdemona only to find out afterwards that it was all Iago’s doings.
In Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” the main protagonist was Krogstad, who was on the brink of losing his job. He was an employee of the main character, Torvald. Torvald is the husband of Nora Helmer, and their relationship as a married couple is an example of a happy marriage for the society. But the happiness didn’t last for long, as soon as Krogstad schemed his way from getting himself fired from the job he didn’t want to lose (Ibsen).
Krogstad’s reasons for his actions were all rooted to him keeping his job. It was very unfortunate that he knows a secret of Nora Helmer. He used this secret to try and save himself from getting fired. It was Nora’s head who’s on the line, fearing that her secret might be discovered by others, especially her husband. The only favor Krogstad asked in exchange for his silence was for Nora to convince his husband not to fire him. However, all of Nora’s efforts were futile, not being able to save Krogstad his job. Because of this, Krogstad chose to unveil Nora’s well kept secret, at the expense of Nora and Torvald’s happy marriage. After all, Krogstad has nothing to lose anymore.
Looking at Krogstad’s reason for his actions, we can say that he is on the edge, that’s why he was forced to blackmail Nora just to save him. It was his job on the line, and he really didn’t want to use it. The fact that he knows something that Nora has kept so much for herself was not his discretion. It was the only option he has, and he chose to use that option well, in exchange for everything that he might lose. Krogstad may be seen as a bad man, but his actions show that it was fate that forced him to do what he has done. This doesn’t concern anything about keeping Nora’s secret just to save her shame or marriage. It was his own battle, and he must fight with everything he has. The only weapon he has in store at that time was Nora’s secret.
We can say that the antagonists of the story had their way with the protagonists. They were able to blindly manipulate anyone in order to have their biddings fulfilled. In the end, it was all misery for the protagonist, each with crumbling relationships as both the stories closed. No matter what their reason may be, these antagonists were able to make the most out of every situation turning it into something advantageous for their own benefits.
- Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll's House". 1879. Spark Notes. October 7 2007. <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dollhouse/>.
- Shakespeare, William. "Othello". 1603. Spark Notes. October 7 2007. <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/othello/>.
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