A Tragedy's Hero

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A tale of duplicity and impetuosity, William Shakespeare’s play Othello brings to life a cast of complex characters. The leading character, Othello, whose undoing the piece recounts, proves to be the quintessential tragic hero by fulfilling all required elements necessary to be labeled as such. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as one of a noble stature who experiences misfortune and commits a culpable act as a result of his own free will; however, the misfortune is neither entirely deserved nor does it result in an absolute loss, as the hero experiences an awakening to the disagreeable facts while accepting defeat (Arp and Johnson). Othello, a vanguard of his day, is beguiled by a confidant and ensnared by the lies that ensue. This causes Othello great mental anguish. He is plagued with the question: Is his love unfaithful, or does she remain true? Eventually, unable to discern fact from fiction, Othello repudiates his bride and their recent marriage. Misplaced trust and a jealous heart soon cause Othello to lose his composure, his dignity, his most loyal counterpart, and ultimately his life. In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle’s composed Poetics, a work of dramatic theory. In this text, he suggests that a tragic hero must be easily identified as a character of noble stature and greatness; however, an audience of common status should be able to identify with the character on certain levels. He believed, therefore, that the hero must be mortal and imperfect in order for the audience to relate (Stevenson). Shakespeare’s character, Othello, meets Aristotle’s basic criteria. In early Venetian history, it was required that the one given charge of Venice’s military forces be a foreigner. This was done in order to preve... ... middle of paper ... ...veral individuals have lost their lives. Othello chooses to accept his fate, admit defeat, and surrender his life. Works Cited Arp, Thomas R., and Greg Johnson. Perrine's Literature Structure, Sound, and Sense. 11th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2012. Print. "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare." Shakespeare-literature.com. 2003. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, An Ideal Prince: And Other Essays in Shakespearean Interpretation Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear. Boston: Gorham, 1916. Print. Cummings, Michael J. "Shakespeare and Medicine." Cummings Study Guides (2011): 1. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. . Maurice, Keen. "Brothers In Arms." History (2007): 1. Print. Stevenson, Daniel C. "The Internet Classics Archives." 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. .
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