Themes in Othello and The winter's tale

Comparing and contrasting the themes in Othello and the winter’s tale.

Othello and The Winter’s Tale are the two from thousand of Shakespeare’s work. Othello and The Winter’s tale shared many similar themes. On the other hand, there are also different themes that have been brought by Shakespeare in his work. Othello is one of the famous plays among thousands of Shakespeare’s play. Until today, Othello has been representing in many forms such as theater, films and books. Even though, sometimes the play has been modernized in terms of languages and its setting, but Othello still bring the same themes like before. On the other hand, The Winter’s Tale has been also the famous Shakespeare’s play, even though, it is not as famous as Othello, but it brings its own themes and values in the play.

In my point of view, the main theme in Othello is love. There are many form of love that were representing in Othello. For examples, the forbidden love between Othello and Desdemona. At the beginning, their marriage was not approved by Desdemona’s father; Brabantio because of Othello’s race is different from theirs. However, Desdemona defend her love towards Othello and willing to stay with him. The climax of Desdemona’s love is when she is willing to follow Othello to Cyprus to battle with the Turks. Besides that, Roderigo is in love with Desdemona; however Roderigo love is not pure because Desdemona was not in love with him and she is someone’s wife. Roderigo is willing to kill Cassio because he believes that Cassio will ruin his chance to tackle Desdemona. Apart from that, there is also love in a marriage between Iago and his wife Emilia and Othello with Desdemona. However, their love is not pure and sincere because no trust exists. Iago believes that his wife had slept with Othello and they are having a relationship behind him. On the other hand, Othello is easily influence by Iago to believe that Desdemona is not loyal to him and having secret relationship with Cassio. Othello is also superstitious when he believes that the handkerchief is a symbol of love and virginity of women towards their men. Othello suppose to believe her wife instead of someone else. On the other hand, Desdemona’s love towards Othello is pure. This can be seen when she is willing to sacrifice her family for the sake of her love towards Othello. Sometimes, she herself does not understand about Othello’s attitude as she frequently asks questions to him. But, this shows her love towards Othello. Othello himself is dedicating his love and passion as a soldier. He is willing to fight in battles, yet sacrificing himself for the country. However, Othello is too obsessed with his career until he cannot differentiate between Desdemona’s true love and the slander that Iago told him.

The winter’s tale by William Shakespeare, also share the similar theme as Othello, which is love. In the play, there are love between king Leontes and Hermione as a husband and wife. However, King Leontes is become possessed with his jealousy as he believes that her wife is having a secret relationship with his old friend, Polixenes. The love that exists between King Leontes and Hermione is not based in trust because King Leontes is doubt with Hermione’s love towards him. He accuses his wife of infidelity, and declares that the child she is bearing must be illegitimate. However, Hermione declares that she is loyal to King Leontes and the child that she carries is his. On the other hand, there are also love that exists between King Polixenes’s son, Prince Florizel and Perdita, who happen to be the King Leontes’s daughter. Even though, at the beginning, their love is not approved by the king as he first believes that Perdita is the shepherd’s daughter. Apart from that, there are also love that based on kindness and sympathy that has been shown in this play by Paulina and her husband’s character: Lord Antigonus. They are willing to save the baby by disobeying their king.

Other theme that has been brought in The Winter’s Tale is the danger of jealousy. King Leontes is obsessed with his jealous fantasies and he accused his wife is having a relationship with his friend, King Polixenes. Without further investigation about his fantasies, King Leontes threw his pregnant wife, Hermione to prison and he refuses to declare the new-born daughter as his. The cause of his action has brought disaster to his entire family. His wife dies after received the news that their son is dead. His only daughter has missed her life of princess for over sixteen years as she has been brought up as a shepherd’s daughter. King Leontes has lost his family and his heir because of his jealous fantasies. King Leontes suppose to investigate his suspicions first before he put his wife in prison and disregarded his own daughter.

As for Othello, the other theme that has been brought by Shakespeare is the danger of isolation. From the beginning of the play, Othello has been isolated from the community. He has been regard as the moor because he is different from them. Brabantio has objected Othello’s marriage with Desdemona because Othello is different from them in term of race and skin color. This proved that, Othello himself is visibly isolated from the other characters by his physical stature and the color of his skin. Iago is taking advantage of the situation by influence all the characters to believe with their own obsession. Most of the characters are isolated from each other. They rarely communicate with each other in the play. We can see that in the play, they rarely share their feeling or express their thought. The danger of this isolation has leads to the deaths of Othello, Iago, Roderigo and even Emilia.

In conclusion, Shakespeare has brought different themes in his play. Othello and The Winter’s tale has shared a similar theme, which is love. He portrayed love in different forms in his play. Shakespeare tries to put forward the meaning of true love that should be based on trust towards each other. In marriage, we should not doubt our spouse if we do not have valid proof of their infidelity. If humans are being control by their emotions and feelings, they cannot think wisely and it can cause disastrous to them in the end. Therefore, even though Shakespearean’s era is already passed, but the values of the works are still relevance to us, nowadays.


Shakespeare, W. (1993). Othello. United States of America: Washington Square Press.
Sparksnotes. (2010). Othello. Retrieved January 30, 2011, from

Shakespeare, W. (1963). The winter’s tale. London: Methuen & Co Ltd.
Sparksnotes. (2010). The Winter’s tale. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from


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