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Othello as Tragic Hero

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Othello as Tragic Hero

I would agree that it is helpful to an understanding of Othello's

character to think of him as a tragic hero. On the surface, the

opinion may be different because he kills his wife and commits suicide

to end his anguish. However, if we look deeper the suffering that

Othello has to go through, and the way that this powerful and heroic

character is tricked and knocked off his high perch by Iago (a lower

status member of the army) he can be seen as a tragic hero. All

Shakespeare's tragic heroes seem to have certain qualities that put

them in this category. The main tragic hero qualities are charisma,

military status and suffering. Shakespeare uses all these traits in

the portrayal of Othello, as well as in his depiction of other tragic

heroes such as Macbeth and Hamlet.

Othello's is a character of high status and stature and this is

reflected in his language. His charisma is built around his position.

During the first scenes of the play, while it is set in Venice, he

speaks mightily and confidently, undeterred by any threats put against

him by other characters. When confronted by Brabantio, Othello calmly

tells him to 'keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them'

(Act 1, Scene 2, Line 59) meaning Brabantio should not even attempt to

fight because he poses no match to the awesome Othello. He then says

'Good Signior, you shall more command with years than with your

weapons', which shows how Othello doesn't rate Brabantio as a fighter,

but recognises the fact that he is experienced in life.

Othello's charisma is echoed in the way he influences other

characters. For most people during Jacobean t...

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...t. This openhearted love of his fellow man makes Othello an

attractive and generous friend and adds to his heroic qualities. But

it also leaves him susceptible to Iago's scheming; Iago knows his plan

will work because Othello trusts him and has no reason to suspect that

his loyal lieutenant would scheme against him. Othello's confidence is

fragile, which is one of his tragic traits.

In conclusion Othello throughout the play shows that he is the typical

tragic hero. He is charismatic because he inspires emotions and

enthusiasm in his language, actions and manner. He has a long military

history that gives him the status he has in the law abiding, Christian

society of Venice. He is made tragic by the repercussions of Iago's

scheming, as well as his fragile conscience that jumps to conclusions,

and the pity this invokes.
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