Shakespeare's Use of Aristotle's Guidelines to Tragedy in Creating the Play Othello

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Throughout time, the tragedy has been seen as the most emotionally pleasing form of drama, because of its ability to bring the viewer into the drama and feel for the characters, especially the tragic hero. This analysis of tragedy was formed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, and also noted in his Poetics (guidelines to drama). As a playwright, Shakespeare used Aristotle’s guidelines to tragedy when writing Othello. The play that was created revolved around the tragic hero, Othello, whose tragic flaw transformed him from a nobleman, into a destructive creature, which would inevitably bring him to his downfall. This transformation follows an organic movement of the complex plot from the beginning, middle, to the end of the drama while keeping the tragic hero consistent and also real. As the play moves on the audience feels pity for the tragic hero as well as fear for themselves as they watch the event taking place on stage. Othello can be seen as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, because it follows the guidelines set up by Aristotle’s Poetics.

As Aristotle’s Poetics states; a tragedy is an imitation of an action of men that is serious and also having magnitude that arouse pity and fear where with to accomplish the catharsis of those emotions. With this definition of a tragedy he also stated the components of the tragedy, ranking them in importance. The first was the plot, which had a recognition scene, the tragic hero’s reversal of fortune, and also a scene of suffering. The plot must have unity and also relate universally to the audience while also being probable. Ranked second was character, which was used to support the plot and bring an organic movement from beginning to end. The main component of character was the tr...

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...e and gullibillity are shown as he says “Ay, ‘twas he that told me on her first./ An honest man he is, and hates the slime/ That sticks on filthy deeds./” (5, 2, 179-81) Though Othello’s tragic flaw is exploited completely by Iago until the end of the play, Othello finally realizes that he has been decieved and states “Where a malignatnt and a turbanned Turk/ Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,/ I took by th’ throat the circumsicised dog,/ And smote him thus./” (5, 2, 414-17) Which can be seen as Othello’s recognition and also the killing of the monster that he has become. In a sense, his monologue is stating that he is not killing the real Othello but actuall the “turbanned Turk” that he has become. This last scene is what finally achieves the catharsis of the play.

This catharsis that is achieved is one of pity towards the tragic and fear for ones’ own life.

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