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Othello as Tragic Hero


Othello as Terrible Hero

In what methods does Shakespeare present Othello as a common terrible hero? Professedly, Shakespeare appears to present Othello as awful hero, exposing his tragic flaw, which as a result results in his downfall, through his use of language, structure and kind. It could be argued ‘Othello’ appears to comply with Aristotle’s concepts of catastrophe, of the noble lead character who goes through perpetia and endures suffering, resulting in his supreme failure due to harmatia, which he eventually realises, offering catharsis for the audience.

However, upon additional research study, such gadgets may be analyzed to offer a various understanding of the lead character, as more of an atypical victim, exposed to the harsh truth of the society he longs to fit into, instead of a typical hero. Shakespeare utilizes a highly concentrated and distinct structure in ‘Othello’, dividing it into five scenes, in addition to keeping the three unities, another element of Aristotle’s theory. There are no subplots, most of the action occurs in Cyprus, and time on phase is fairly near to “genuine” time.

Such a structure allows the audience to develop a more personal understanding of events, as they are in closer proximity to the action, and are not distracted by subplots. Not just does this increase the ominous mood of the tragic occasions that are to come, it makes the prospect of Othello’s downfall significantly frightening. Immediately, Shakespeare presents Othello as an outsider in the play, referring to him as the “moor”. In Venetian society, such a term described second rate citizens of Muslim descent, and Iago’s usage of the word suggests he feels that Othello is not worthy of being called his own name.

The audience start to establish a dislike for him, particularly when Iago wakes up Brabantio to tell him how “an old black ram is tupping [his] white ewe”. He continues describing to him how the “Barbary horse” has actually married his child. Such substantial use of animal imagery, and the plain contrast between black and white, not just in racial terms however in terms of excellent and evil, stress the bitterness and stress Shakespeare is trying to create in between Iago and Othello, and likewise highlights many of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan audiences’ racist attitudes.

Shakespeare often wrote for the royal court where such poignant reflections of the society they resided in were most likely to make enduring impressions on them. However, as the play advances, Othello is in reality exposed as a worthy and valiant character, who is valued by numerous, who is pleased with his life, exclaiming: “I can not mention this content”. Even when faced by Brabantio, he seems level headed stating, “Let him do his spite: my services which I have done the signory shall out-tongue his complaints”, revealing he is managed and confident.

Whilst constantly being damned by Branbantio as having “enchanted her”, he remains composed and respectful, resolving the senate as “extremely noble and approved good masters”. Shakespeare also provides Othello as an honest character, as he openly admits “it is most real; true that I have actually wed her”. He neither screams nor yells, however explains in a way that captivates the audience, and draws them to listen, through his usage of significant verse.

Nonetheless, it might be argued that these speeches made by Othello, although wonderfully crafted and entrancing, seem to have an air of conceit to them, and his “unvarnished tale”, stumbles upon too rehearsed. He feels he ought to “promulgate” his achievements as a basic and believes highly that his “parts. titles … and. ideal soul, must manifest [him] appropriately”. In the eyes of the Duke, that is just what they do, making him believe Othello is “far more fair than black”.

Leavis agrees with this position, claiming Othello is “excessively familiar with his nobility”; likewise he suggests that Othello’s speech in which he describes that, but for the love of Desdemona, he would never give up the flexibility to stroll “for the sea’s worth”, is “overblown”, “egotistic” and “self dramatising”. Although there is a great deal of fact in this, it is essential to keep in mind that, as somebody who has actually constantly been considered an outsider and as a relatively brand-new arrival to Venetian society, he may just feel required to constantly prove his worth to those around, maybe to the cost of the love he shows Desdemona.

As the play goes on, the control from Iago begins to corrupt Othello’s mind, benefiting from his when “complimentary and open nature”, as he suggests Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, and due to his hubris he is blind to it. His harmatia is arguably that he is too trusting, as he thinks what “sincere Iago” is telling him. The audience see as he is benefited from by the fake and destructive acts of Iago, and Shakespeae’s use of significant irony aids the audience to empathise with the lead character, and share an aggravation at the catastrophe of the unfairness of the situation. A.

C Bradley thinks it is this trust that produces his failure, in a nature that in reality is “virtually flawless”. While it appears that Othello is relying on Iago, this trust is not something instilled in him automatically, however rather something that establishes not since of Othello’s supposed relying on nature, but from the “ocular evidence” offered through Iago’s heavy staging of events. Although Othello is cautioned to “be careful the green eyes beast”, the jealousy within him does handle rather a monstrous nature, growing inside him and ending up being increasingly destructive and extreme.

The once controlled and well levelled Othello seems disappearing to be changed by an erratic male. The once proficient verse that won over numerous individuals, consisting of Desdemona, is replaced with prose, comparable to that of the villainous Iago. Shakespeare provides this through heavy use of fragmented speech and repeating: “Lie with her? Lie on her … Handkercheif-confessions-handkerchief! “. Not only does this highlight Othello’s frustrating state, it also demonstrates his insecurity and disbelief as he is constantly questioning himself, losing control.

He makes brash choices and crude outbursts of how he will “tear [Desdemona] apart” and “chop her into messes”. In doing this Shakespeare is allowed to present Othello as returning to his fundamental, animalistic sinful state, losing stature and composure and drawing closer to his ultimate decline, however an alternative view would be to see Othello’s insecurity as his failure. Perhaps this so called “trust” he has positioned in Iago is not due to the fact that he is the “above reproach hero” explained by Bradley, but rather someone whose trust is neither “strong” nor “absolute! as Leavis claims. Maybe it is simply a ploy to keep the track record he has actually sent his entire life building intact. This recommends that, rather than a hero, he remains in truth a selfish character encouraged by power and a requirement for acceptance instead of love. In Act 3, he mentions being “haply black”, and his insecurities are exposed as he thinks he is inarticulate, barbaric and lacking “those soft parts of discussion … that clamberers have”.

Instead of his relying on nature and jealousy being his harmatia, something Desdemona believes the “sun where he was born drew such humours from him”, it is this inbred insecurity that has now been revealed through Iago, that is the primary reason for his downfall– not his brave good nature. When truth does lastly struck, some would state he seems really repentant for his actions, speaking of penalties (“Roast me in sulphur”), leading critics such as Bradley to suggest catharsis is reached and “Othello’s anger has passed, and sorrow has taken its location”.

Yet, this is debatable, as this sorrow may have been mistaken for an unexpected sense of anguish and realisation that all is lost. Leavis argues he is in reality “preoccupied with his own emotions rather than the loss of Desdemona”. Othello’s last speech regresses back into his self lovely eloquent verse, as he feels the requirement to advise the “state [of] some service”, and instead of acknowledging the tragedy of his treacherous actions, he dismisses himself as an “honourable killer”.

Here it appears Shakespeare is subtly presenting Othello as narcissistic and heartless, below his brave exterior. Amidst this questionably conceited last speech, his insecurities appear to reappear as he describes himself as a “circumcised canine”, recommending he is more troubled that this is how he would be remembered rather than a worthy general. Seemingly, Shakespeare appears to present Othello as an awful hero as he fulfils much of the universal ideas of tragedy. However, he is in fact a victim, not just to the adjustment of Iago, however to his own insecurities.

His life appears to focus on his enthusiasm with Venetian society, instead of Desdemona, and as a repercussion, he is turned into the envious, shallow and obsessed man at the end of the play. Although awful, Othello is far from brave. Word Count: 1,465 Bibliography [1] http://www. enotes. com/othello [2] http://www. paperstarter. com/othello. htm [3] Stoner, Richard: F. R Leavis, Routledge Important Believing [4] Bradley, A. C: Shakespearean Catastrophe ( 1904) [5] http://www. teachit. co. k/armoore/shakespeare/ othello. htm # 23 [6] Gilbert, Anthony: Othello, the Baroque, and Religious Mentalities. [7] Collinson, Patrick: The Puritan Character: Polemics and Polarities in early Seventeenth-century English Culture(1989—————————— [1] http://extra. shu. ac. uk/emls/07 -2/ gilboth. htm #fn 6 [2] Richard Stoner: F. R Leavis, Routledge Critical Thinking [3] A. C. Bradley: Shakespearean Disaster ( 1904) [4] http://bookstove. com/drama/othello-as-a-tragic-hero/

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