As the play progresses, the tragic hero, Othello transformeds from a noble gentleman and a loving husband into an insecure, irrational murderer. At the beginning of the play, Othello portrayed himself as a hero and a well-respected soldier. When Brabantio tries to confront him for marrying Desdemona, Othello confidently lists his military services which he believes “shall out-tongue Brabantio's complaint” (I, ii,19). Evidently, Othello is not a Venetian native. So, within his inner heart, he is fully aware of being a culturally different outsider from the rest of the Venetians.
Othello is a highly respected general and is also married to the pure Desdemona. The marriage between Othello and Desdemona is destroyed due to Iago’s actions and lies. His actions consist of getting Michael Cassio discharged as lieutenant and convincing the Moor that his wife is cheating on him. The motives Iago has for despising Othello are he passed him over for a promotion to be his lieutenant, instead he chose Michael Cassio, and then he has suspicion that Othello slept with his wife, Emilia. Iago is miserable with his life, so he is going to make everyone else around him feel his misery.
This furthermore leads to the downfall of Willy and his family, proving that Willy Loman is a tragic hero. To conclude, “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller satisfies the criteria for a tragic play because Willy’s pride is a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. Ultimately, Willy gains enlightenment of his false perception of life and realizes how he inhibits the success of his family. This epiphany leads him to sacrifice himself for the well-being of his family. During his lifetime, Willy’s pride caused him to have an overinflated ego, a bizarre idealistic view on life, and a false value system.
At the beginning of the play, Othello assigns the lieutenant role to Cassio rather than Iago, who is Othello’s close friend. Iago believed that he was more qualified as a lieutenant, which led him to develop anger towards Othello. Also, Iago was convinced that his wife, Emilia has cheated on him with Othello, and believed that the only way to get back is to corrupt his life. This rage led him to plot an evil scheme to ruin Othello’s life as he says, “[…] put the Moor at least into a jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure” (2. 1, 300).
He despises Othello, because he passed him up for a promotion to be lieutenant. Iago’s villainous character is only made more clear when he is willing to make grotesque, racist comments about the leader he has always adored. “I hate the Moor: And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets, He has done my office” (I.iii.429-31). Iago expresses such deep hatred toward Othello, because he heard a rumor that he and his wife Emilia have a relationship. He does not know whether the rumor is true or not, but this is the perfect, socially accepted justification to ruin Othello’s life.
Othello, in an outrage, believes everything Iago tells him and accuses his wife of being adulterous saying “she’s like a liar gone to burning hell” (V, ii, 132) and “she is false as water” (v, ii, 137). Being that Othello is insecure about his age and race – he is both old and black – he constantly questions Desdemona’s loyalty to him. Therefore, he is easily convinced that Desdemona was unfaithful when Iago torments him. Othello says, “ 'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death” (III, iii, 277). Othello believes his race and age made him destined to be cheated on.
Othello is so envious that he would rather be a toad than share his wife with another man. Othello tries to cover up his jealousy rather than to tell his wife of the rumor and communicate the emotions he is feeling. Othello questions himself and his wife, asking “why, why is this?/ think’st I’d make a life a jealousy”(3.3.178-179). Othello lets it slip that he is indeed jealous, but he will not let it destroy his life. However, he does let jealousy take over and he murders Desdemona.
When Jim says; “it takes a certain talent… for lying” which suggests to the audience that Mother is corrupt, which also implies Miller believes America to be corrupt. In conclusion Arthur Miller makes the disintegration of the Keller family very dramatic and compelling for the audience, through the portrayed feelings of sorrow for Keller because he was trying to do what was best for his family. However, by the end of the play his family who he sought to protect eventually turned against him, driving him to suicide. Miller makes us feel least sorrowful for Mother because we blame her as she was very manipulative and emotionless when Keller committed suicide.
This tragedy is brought by a simple manipulation of Iago, the villain of the play. The jealousy led Othello to a path of constant questioning to his wife, and his friend Cassio. Throughout the play, he sinks deeper and deeper into his doubt and eventually that causes him to kill not only the love of his life, but also himself. In her work, “This that you call Love”: Sexual and Social Tragedy in Othello, Gayle Greene (2004) argues that the tragedy occurs from adherence to patriarchal rules and stereotypes (Greene 655-659). According to Gary Greene, the tragedy is caused by “men’s misunderstandings of women and women’s inability to protect themselves from society’s conception of them” (666).
Even Emilia sinks to the level of insulting Othello based on the color of his skin. The character that most commonly makes racist remarks in Othello is Iago. It is very apparent that Iago uses racism as a scapegoat to hate and blame Othello. Societal racism takes its toll on its victims. The effect of racism on Othello is quite evident and is one of the main causes for his insecurity about his marriage.