“How does Shakespeare Encourage the Audience to Pity the Character of Othello?”

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It is in the great tragedy, Othello by William Shakespeare, that Shakespeare has managed to create a character so pitiable, yet so powerful. Throughout the play, the audience witnesses Othello’s self-destruction and loss of power through his rage filled speeches and situations of false accusation. Witnessing his relationships with Iago and Desdemona is like watching one being driven mad with their own self-hate: any rational being would tell Othello to be realistic and trust his wife, yet the same individual would realise that Othello is mentally ill and not much can be done to help the situation. Therefore, the audience feels powerless in this situation thus he or she feels pity for the struggle the character is experiencing. At the beginning of the play, the audience is made aware that Othello is a Moor working in the service of Venice. During the time the play was written, racism was strong. Despite Othello’s carefully built up life in which he managed to rise from being very poor to a powerful general, he still experienced racism from characters such as Roderigo and Brabantio. In Act One Scene One, Brabantio is appalled at the idea of his delicate daughter Desdemona secretly marrying a black man without his consent. He openly insults Othello, oblivious to Othello’s power: “That thou hast practiced on her with foul charms, Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals.” Brabantio is accusing Othello of witchcraft and trickery, and suggesting that no one could ever love him without the influence of his evil witchcraft. The audience feels pity for Othello because they know that Othello loves Desdemona and that he is a kind man, and is receiving these insults because of his race. The audience realises that he is already at a ... ... middle of paper ... ...s. He does this from Act Three to the end of Act Five. Othello is chooses to shut himself off from everyone and his wife, except Iago who he believes to be a ‘friend’. The audience feels pity because they see that Othello has become a weak and vulnerable person who has lost control of his life and decisions, triggered by the malicious schemes of Iago. To conclude, the audience feels pity towards Othello because throughout the play they are helplessly witnessing the downfall of this powerful and admirable general, triggered by his fatal flaw and miscommunication between characters. What makes this play tragic is that one realises that having a fatal flaw like Othello’s and being naïve can have serious consequences. The perfect balance between terror and pity, sympathy and judgment is what makes Othello a character that is somewhat relatable, likeable and very real.

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