The Military Commander in Othello

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The Military Commander in Othello The character of the general in William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello is quite noble, although plagued by the shortcoming or weakness of gullibility. Let us in this essay look at all the features, both good and bad. of this ill-fated hero. David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies describes many fine virtues which reside within the general: Othello’s blackness, like that of the natives dwelling in heathen lands, could betoken to Elizabethan audiences an innocent proneness to accept Christianity, and Othello is one who has already embraced the Christian faith. His first appearance onstage, when he confronts a party of torch-bearing men coming to arrest him and bids his followers sheathe their swords, is sufficiently reminiscent of Christ’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane to convey a fleeting comparison between Othello and the Christian God whose charity and forbearance he seeks to emulate. Othello’s blackness may be used in part as an emblem of fallen man, but so are we all fallen. His age similarly strengthens our impression of his wisdom, restraint, leadership. (220) Is it his “gullibility” which leads to his downfall? Morton W. Bloomfield and Robert C. Elliott in Great Plays: Sophocles to Brecht posit the “lack of insight” of the hero as the cause of his tragic fall: Othello’s lack of insight, cunningly played upon by Iago, leads to his downfall. And as the full enormity of his deed dawns upon him in the great scene of tragic self-revelation at the end, the audience may perhaps experience catharsis, that purgation of the soul brought about by an almost unbearable pity for him and his victims, and by terror at what human... ... middle of paper ... ...han all his tribe [. . .] .” He dies a noble death, just as he has lived a noble life. Michael Cassio’s evaluation of his end is our evaluation: “This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon; / For he was great of heart.” WORKS CITED Bevington, David, ed. William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies. New York: Bantam Books, 1980. Bloomfield, Morton W. and Robert C. Elliott, ed. Great Plays: Sophocles to Brecht. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1965. Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare’s Four Giants. Rindge, New Hampshire: Richard Smith Publisher, 1957. Jorgensen, Paul A. William Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985. Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

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