Othello As A Tragic Hero Essay

2478 words - 10 pages

Introduction

Othello is a classic tragic hero that stands out as distinguished individual failing in the encounter with evil. Brought to us through Shakespeare’s genius, he compares in significance to other personalities including Oedipus, Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet and other tragic heroes. This paper will focus on the explication of Othello as a tragic hero and his correspondence to the canons for tragic protagonists.
Othello and Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy
To decide how well Othello fits into the mold of a tragic hero, one needs to accept in the first place a working definition of tragedy and tragic hero. The theorists exploring tragedy almost universally draw upon ...view middle of the document...

However, his tragedies reveal strict adherence to Aristotle’s theory, and Othello is no exception. Whether this correspondence was caused by a thorough study of Aristotle’s works or through an accidental coincidence of thoughts of two geniuses of the world’s culture remains a matter for guessing.
Thus, the play definitely possesses a noble character, Othello. The man’s nobility of action contrasts with his dark-colored appearance, unusual for Europe of that time. Othello proved himself to be a noble warrior deserving of the highest respect. He never acts dishonestly or cowardly throughout the play; in fact, nobility is one of the most important features of his character. Yet he fails through his own fault, and this fault is his credibility. An essentially good feature, it is taken to extremes in Othello, which causes his demise. He never stoops to questioning Desdemona. He is so absorbed in what Iago tells him that he never questions the words of the villain. At the time when the vicious Iago weaves his web of conspiracy, gullible Othello greets him with the words:

I know thou art full of love and honesty.

Therefore, Othello is not merely a victim of malicious circumstances as he might have been if he had, for example, lost a wife had been hit by a lightning or cruelly murdered by robbers. Instead, he incurred his misfortune himself, and his death at the end of the play serves to underscore this idea. At the end of the play he chastises himself with bitterness, confessing that his ruin was brought about by his own failure:

O cursed, cursed slave! Whip me, ye devils,
from the possession of the heavenly sight!
Blow me about the winds! roast me in sulphur!
...O Desdemona, Desdemona Dead! O! O! O!”

Othello as a play also fits Aristotle’ description as it contains logical unity and coherence that is a necessary component of tragedy. The play starts from the moment of idyllic honeymooning between Othello and Desdemona and follows Iago’s treacherous plan from inception to its tragic success. Othello’s sufferings in youth and the story of his courtship stay behind the scene, but in Othello’s account they form an logical background for the action observed by the viewer.
Othello evokes in the readers both pity and fear. They are pressured to feel sorry for the man who so sadly loses his wife due to a conspiracy. The pity for Othello even exceeds the feeling for Desdemona who is merely a victim; she does not have to suffer the pangs of conscience for what she has done. At the same time pity is not the only feeling Othello evokes in the readers or viewers. He also raises fear as a man capable of such a savage revenge, killing a wife on the spot for the alleged adultery. It seems that even at the time of more stringent morality such as mediaeval Italy not every husband would go that far as to kill the adulteress. This is even less likely in Elizabethan England, and so had to seem even...

Other Essays Like Othello as a Tragic Hero

Custer as a Hero Essay

584 words - 3 pages Custer as a Hero Was Custer a hero? In my opinion, I think he had the ability to become a hero, but made some terrible mistakes. His first downfall was when he graduated last in his class at the United States Military Academy. This tells us that he was neither very academic nor very intelligent or maybe he was lazy. From this point, he shot up through the ranks in the army: first he became Captain, then Lieutenant

Macbeth As A Tragic Character Essay

1237 words - 5 pages brought both an immense tragic fate onto himself as well as creating tragedy in the lives of his peers. Macbeth regressed from being a decent, moral man, to someone closely resembling a devil, who could make no distinction between good and evil. Macbeth became so engrossed in himself as well as the prophecies that were laid upon him by the three witches, that he became indifferent to the thoughts and feelings of the people around him, who once

Macbeth as a Tragic Hero

2169 words - 9 pages symbol of what America has become in the 1920's : a place where anything goes, where money is made and bootleggers flourish, and where the World Series can be fixed by a man such as Meyer Wolfsheim. Background Information: Nick Carraway, the narrator is a young midwesterner who, having graduated from Yale, had fought in World War I and returned home to begin a career. He decides to move east to New York and learn the bond business. The novel

A Tragic Hero of a Salesman - Tragic Heroism in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

574 words - 3 pages Death of a Salesman is the tragic story of one man and his struggle to fulfill the Americandream and take his family along with him. Since the story is tragic, what would a tragedy bewithout the title character, himself, dying? Well, probably just a sad story. So, it happens, butwe have to wonder, is Willy Loman a tragic hero? Arthur Miller says a tragic hero is "Thetragic feeling...invoked whenever we are in the presence of a character, any

Jealousy as a Theme in Othello

1386 words - 6 pages destructive side of Othello and eventually turns him from a great noble man to a reasonless murderer. These three aspects show the theme of jealousy as the devilish seed that lead those characters to their tragic endings. First of all, it is very clear that Iago is driven crazy by jealousy and is a jealous person in his nature, as he thinks that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia, which leads him to take terrifying revenge on Othello. “I hate the Moor

Creon Tragic Hero Essay About "Antigone," By Sophocles. Discusses Why Creon IS A Tragic Hero In The Book "Antigone"

1136 words - 5 pages fall is now a pure loss, which is as well, a condition of a tragic hero.Creon is the tragic hero in Antigone because he is of noble stature, posses character flaws, and his fall is not an entire loss. These flaws eventually are what leads Creon to his demise and to the of his wife and son. In Antigone there were numerous themes. One of the themes is pride and its effect on the characters. Both Antigone and Creon are exceedingly proud, making it

"Macbeth", Not A Tragic Hero: This Paper Was Written To Expose The Misconception That Macbeth Is A Tragic Hero When In Fact He Is Not

936 words - 4 pages The definition of a classical tragic hero is defined by Aristotle in The Poetics as "A man slightly better than most who falls from a high to a low position due to a hamartia. His fall is cathartic, evoking in the audience the feelings of fear and pity." Macbeth violates all three of these standards. Macbeth is not the only man slightly better than others, he rises in position instead of falling, his fall is not entirely his own fault, and does

Arthur Miller's Definition Of A "TRAGIC HERO" In Death Of A Salesman

954 words - 4 pages We as readers have too often become one-sided on a particular topic and failed to consider other possibilities. Even today, over fifty years after Arthur Miller's essay Tragedy and The Common Man; we still associate tragedy with the highborn and their plights. However, Arthur Miller stimulates our minds by explaining that a tragic hero can and should include the common man. He defines a tragic hero as one who attempts to "gain his 'rightful

"Scarlett O'Hara: Tragic Hero?" This Essay Proves That Scarlett O'Hara From Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With The Wind" Is A Tragic Hero According To Aristotle

1224 words - 5 pages With the Wind, exhibits all the qualities of a tragic hero as defined by the famous playwright Aristotle.The first characteristic of all tragic heroes is nobility. Scarlett O'Hara was born the daughter of a wealthy and successful plantation owner in Clayton County, Georgia in the 1840's. Her family was held in high esteem by the neighboring plantation owners, and their plantation, Tara, produced large cotton crops. This harvest, which was

Reasons why Marcus Brutus is and is not a Tragic Hero

550 words - 3 pages The defenition of a tragic hero a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy. This defenition is perpetuated most clearly by one of the major characters. This character is the noble roman Brutus. Brutus is the tragic hero because of the fact that he fulfills the requirements of a tragic hero. He is a person of noble bith. He does have a tragic flaw, he

In-class Essay on Brutus from "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare: A Tragic Hero

269 words - 2 pages A tragic hero is a character whose fatal flaw in character brings about his/her tragedy. Brutus is the tragic hero of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". His downfall is that naïveté and his bad decision-making.Brutus is too trusting. When the conspirators gathered at his house, Cassius asked for an oath from each conspirator. Brutus, on the other hand, disagreed. He says that their honest faces are enough. However, after they

Related Papers

Hamlets As A Tragic Hero Essay

888 words - 4 pages model set by Aristotle, the characteristics of the classic model are present in this play. Change in society, sympathy for hero, good person destroyed and tragic death are a few of the main characteristics which are all represented. The society began with order at the beginning but ended with chaos and many deaths. There is a great deal of sympathy for Hamlet as pathos is felt all throughout the play for him. Hamlet was a good person at the

Macbeth As A Tragic Hero Essay

982 words - 4 pages Macbeth as a Tragic Hero Shakespeare must have conceived of Macbeth as a personality caught up between the old and the new world-views and ethos—the conventional one and the Renaissance one. The former defined man’s place on earth in terms of the biblical world-view presented in the first chapter of the Bible Genesis, which necessarily linked it to the concept of Great Chain of Being, and accordingly dictated the codes of conduct. The later

A Tragic Hero / Heroine Essay

644 words - 3 pages successful. Creon's royalty is stated at the beginning of Scene I of Antigone, when he says to the Chorus, " Unfortunately, as you know, his two sons, the princes Eteocles and Polyneices, have killed each other in battle; and I, as the next in blood, have succeeded to the full power of the throne.” Creon suits the requirement of a tragic hero because he is also rich in authority when he becomes the king of Thebes. Creon's downfall is his hubris. He

King Lear A Complex Tragic Hero?

1042 words - 5 pages A tragic hero fits many moulds of characters. On the other hand a character fits many moulds of a tragic hero. King Lear’s flaws make him human, if the protagonist were a flawless hero, there would be no tragedy. Aristotle was a huge influence on the knowledge of what defines a tragic character. He lived in the 4th century BC and grew to be very significant as a thinker. Many writers such as Shakespeare based their own tragic hero’s on his ideas