What defines a “fall”? Some would say that a fall is a freeing from the restrictions of the oppression of a supreme being. Others would say that a fall is the punishment that comes from foolishly disobeying the one who is in authority over you. The falls in book nine of “Paradise Lost” and “Othello” both have parallels in the reasons and methods in which revenge was carried out and perfection was destroyed. But these stories end with different victors and very different balances of power. The fall of “Paradise Lost” does have motives and patterns common with the fall of “Othello.
Each story establishes the authority of a Supreme Being, God the creator and Othello respectively. God the creator made everything that exists, and had control over his creation, which happens to be the vicinity of the setting of Paradise Lost. Othello was in authority over all the characters we become familiar with in the play, making his power and God’s power parallel when we consider that they each control the entire expanse of the story. The “deceiver” figures in each are Satan and Iago. Satan becomes jealous of the freedom, authority, and unwarranted appreciation and power God gives to man, his new and “undeserving” creation.
Satan feels that he should have been exalted, not put in a position to submit to man. In the same way, Iago felt that he should have been favored by Othello. Instead Othello chose Casio to be his second in command. Because Satan and Iago both felt overlooked and under rewarded, they each mapped out a plan to destroy the purity or happiness of their creator. Both “Paradise Lost” and “Othello” had a character that was used by the deceiver as a tool to further his evil plot. Satan used the serpent, an innocent member of God’s creation, and Iago used Emilia, his wife, who was a servant and confidant of Desdemona to make a more convincing lie.
The first main difference between the falls of these two stories is who was being deceived. In paradise lost, it is the beloved creation of the Supreme Being that is manipulated and acts wrongly. In Othello, it is the actual “Supreme Being” figure that is deceived and brought to a tragic end. With this definite veer in parallels, we can expect that the end of each story will result with a different victim and a different level of punishment. One must consider the two stories separately to see the differences. In book nine of “Paradise Lost,” God almighty creates a people whom he rules over in love, and gives them the choice of free will.
God tells Adam and Eve that they may eat of any tree in the garden, but they must not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, which is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree they would surely die. Satan, who is jealous of the position of glory that God has put man in, plots his revenge against God. Satan wants to destroy the perfection of God’s creation, and cause the consequences of disobedience to come upon mankind as it did upon him at the time of his own rebellion against God.
Satan had been cast out of heaven and eternally damned to hell, and he planned that man would have to face the same fate if they would disobey God. Satan deceived Eve and Eve disobeyed God, and which event signified the fall of man. The death God said would come if they ate the fruit was not a physical death, but a spiritual death that would affect life on earth and the fate of man after death. To the earth it brought pain and sorrow, greed, jealousy, sin, anger, and any unpleasant feeling or unfulfilling work.
Eternally, man’s disobedience brought exactly what Satan wished for, the damnation of imperfect mankind to an eternity in hell, only because God is perfect and can not look upon imperfection. But the actual end of the story is not in line with this loss of hope. The end is what differs greatly from the end of “Othello. ” In “Othello”, Iago is jealous of the fact that Othello has promoted Casio to a high position that he thought he deserved. To take revenge on Othello, who is the power figure in this story, Iago deceives Othello himself into believing that Desdemona is cheating on him with Casio.
Iago enlists the help of his wife, Emelia, to frame Desdemona for being unfaithful to her husband. Iago plans to have an outcome of Othello killing Casio and Desdemona, and exalting Iago to Casio’s place of authority. In the end, Iago ends up achieving his goal of killing Desdemona. He defeated Othello to the point of grief so strong he ended his own life. Casio was given more power that he had in the first place, and Iago was punished for his deceit, undoubtedly beyond redemption. Even though Iago did not take Casio out of power, his victory over the supreme figure did outweigh the price he was forced to pay.
Herein lies the difference between the results of these two falls. Iago caused the Supreme Being to be dethroned and the story to end without hope of redemption for the innocent, mainly the perfectly obedient and loving Desdemona. Iago was, overall, victorious. But in Paradise Lost, Satan’s provoking of mankind to fall does not in the end weigh him out as the victor over God. Being all powerful, God had a way to allow man to use the same free will that allowed mankind to fall to save them from the damnation coming from their disobedience.
God sent his son, the Christ, to be a sacrifice for the disobedience of man, so that they could choose to escape the fires of hell and join God in perfection after this troubled earthly life is over. The story ends with hope, not tragedy, and Satan is still condemned to the same fate he was at his first disobedience. In this story we see that the Supreme Being’s power far outweighed the attempts of the deceiver to ruin his creation. The question still remains, what do these two falls represent?
The fall in “Othello” represents the failing of friendship’s ability to keep jealousy under control. Iago at one time had respect, even a love for Othello. But jealousy eventually got in the way of his devotion to Othello, and his feelings of equality to Othello and complaint of unfair treatment drove him to seek revenge. We are encouraged to regard this failing as the actions of a man who has been made jealous by being looked over for a promotion. Iago took his own human nature to the next level of greediness, and determined that he would not be left out of the glory he felt he had earned.
The fall of “Paradise Lost” represents the failing of man’s free will to obey the all knowing creator. From the book, we are to regard this fall as an act of rebellion spawned from manipulation and ignorance, which was regretted by Eve and Adam. Satan had no power other than that which God allowed him to have. Ultimately, we see that man has a way for redemption of their fall, and a way to regain their state of peace with God. Man can regain the state of being good within the eyes of God because of the sacrifice Christ made.