The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearian Tragedy

By G. Wilson Knight | Go to book overview

12

SYMBOLIC PERSONIFICATION

The theme of Timon of Athens is closely connected with that of Othello. The comparison is interesting and important. In both plays we have a protagonist compact of generosity, trust, nobility. Both possess the same richness of soul, something of the same flood and swell of passion's music, a similar Oriental sense of display. At the crisis each swerves from passionate love to its opposite with a similar finality. Indeed, Othello's words,

No, to be once in doubt
Is once to be resolved,

(iii. iii. 179)

are even truer of Timon than of himself. In both, toward the end, a massive harmony of words builds a serenity which grows out of the violent revulsion and loathing. Towards the close of each play we are struck with grand imagery of sun and moon and earth.

In Othello the poet expresses dramatically the destructive force of cynicism and un-faith directed against that Love to which man aspires, and in whose reality he attempts to build his happiness. Ultimately, in so far as Othello expresses a universal truth, it must be considered to suggest the inability of love's faith to weather the conditions of this

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