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Othello: an Extraordinary Person

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Othello: an Extraordinary Person

The Bard of Avon has created an exceptional person in the character of General Othello in the tragedy Othello. Let us in this essay examine in detail the multi-faceted personality of this doomed hero.

Helen Gardner in “Othello: A Tragedy of Beauty and Fortune” talks of the hero’s exceptional personal qualities:

Othello is like a hero of the ancient world in that he is not a man like us, but a man recognized as extraordinary. He seems born to do great deeds and live in legend. He h as the obvious heroic qualities of courage and strength, and no actor can attempt the role who is not physically impressive. He has the heroic capacity for passion. But the thing which most sets him apart is his solitariness. He is a stranger, a man of alien race, without ties of nature or natural duties. His value is not in what the world thinks of him, although the world rates him highly, and does not derive in any way from his station. It is inherent. He is, in a sense, a ‘self-made man’, the product of a certain kind of life which he has chosen to lead. . . . (140)

Despite the wonderful personal attributes he possesses, Othello still falls prey to the sinister Iago. His gullibility and naivete make this possible. Francis Ferguson in “Two Worldviews Echo Each Other” describes how Othello carries out Iago’s plan of destruction:

Othello moves to kill Desdemona (Act V, scene 2) with that “icy current and compulsive course” which he had felt at the end of Act III, scene 3. We hear once more the music and the cold, magnificent images that express his “perfect soul”:

Yet I’ll not shed her blood,

Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,

And smooth as ...

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...Through Dialogue.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Literature. N. p.: Random House, 1986.

Ferguson, Francis. “Two Worldviews Echo Each Other.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare: The Pattern in His Carpet. N.p.: n.p., 1970.

Gardner, Helen. “Othello: A Tragedy of Beauty and Fortune.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from “The Noble Moor.” British Academy Lectures, no. 9, 1955.

Jorgensen, Paul A. William Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.
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