Racism, Human Nature, Love and Hatred “Mother Savage”

Mother Savage by Guy de Maupassant and Shakespeare’s Othello are two literary pieces which have several aspects in common. They may be from two different authors of two different times, but they both have certain characteristics which are somewhat similar. One of this is that both Mother Savage and The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice has a concept of racism, wherein people from different countries and different cultures are involved. Another is that these two literary works both touch on the human nature, how man reacts to various factors in his surroundings, and even the people around him. And lastly, Mother Savage and The Tragedy of Othello are both stories filled with love and hatred, as shown by the main characters of these literary works.

The two stories both have a take on the aspect of racism. In Guy de Maupassant’s “Mother Savage,” racism is seen at the time of war, where the story revolved when a group of Prussian army settled in a local’s house; an old widow who has a son who went to war against these Prussians (Maupassant). Basically, the old woman, Mother Savage, has let in her house the Prussian army whom his son was fighting against. On the other story, Shakespeare’s Othello also showed racism as a main focus in the story (Shakespeare). Othello is a noble black General of Arabic descent, a Moor. He fell in love and married a young white daughter of a politician, Desdemonda. The story showed two people from a different race falling for each other, but because of certain reasons, their relationship ends up tragically.

The next similarity between the two stories is aspect of Human Nature. This is where the main characters is affected by his surroundings, and he responds to this by following his urges, his human nature.  In the story “Mother Savage,” the old woman showed her human nature when she learned about the death of her son. At first, when she didn’t know that her son was dead, she accepted willingly the Prussian force composed of four soldiers to stay in her house.

But when she found out that her son died, she couldn’t help but exact revenge on these unknowing “enemies.” She burned her house along while the soldiers were fast asleep, and because of that, she was killed by the other soldiers who responded upon knowing the incident. In The Tragedy of Othello, human nature was seen with the main character himself, the Moor, Othello (Al-Amin). When his mind was clouded by jealousy about his wife having an affair with another man, he resorted to murderous means and has committed his own life in the end.

Lastly, both of the stories have tackled about love and hatred. This was manifested in both of the stories’ main characters. In “Mother Savage,” it was the mother’s love that kept her hoping for his son’s return, and keeping the Prussian soldiers in her house. She thought that these soldiers also have their mothers worrying for them. But hatred has filled her emotions when she found out that her son died. And because of this hatred, she has resorted to murdering the enemy soldiers while they were sleeping. In “The Tragedy of Othello,” it was love that made two different people is together, in the case of Othello and Desdemonda, and it was hatred and jealousy that separated them, and has eventually led to their deaths.

William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello and Mother Savage by Guy de Maupassant are stories which have similarities in their content. Even though they are many differently, these similarities show that they are both tragic in nature. The concepts they are similar in makes these stories interesting, even though they are shown at different angles. Moreover, these stories may have similar concepts, but still stand out individually, very different from each other.


Al-Amin, Zakia. “Othello: The Tragedy of Human Nature”.  1999. July 29 2007. <http://www.gpc.edu/~shale/humanities/composition/handouts/sample/Othellopaper.html>.

Maupassant, Guy de. “Mother Sauvage”.  2001.  ClassicReader.com. July 29 2007. <http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/bookid.475/sec./>.

Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice”.  1604. July 29 2007. <http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/playmenu.php?WorkID=othello>.

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