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The Pathways to Othello's Demise

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In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, The protagonist, Othello, a respected Moorish general in the army of Venice descends into murderous jealousy against his wife. Othello is initially depicted as a heroic and successful military leader whose thoughts are governed by logic and reason. Unfortunately, Othello has a few tragic flaws - he is gullible, suffers from low self-esteem because of his race and age, and like many men of that time, contemptuous of women. All these factors play a role in Othello's ultimate fall, however, Iago's exploitation of Othello's defect is the main reason that causes Othello to be driven by jealousy to the point that it consumes his entire existence that leads to the tragic outcome of the play. Iago's incessant deception and lies cause Othello's judgment to be eclipsed by insecurity, jealousy and lack of trust towards his wife leading to his tragic demise.

Despite of Othello's status, he seems to naively trust Iago who insinuates that Desdemona is committing adultery. Ironically, Othello easily distrusts his own wife. Hoover Jordan illustrates Men's attitude towards women: "Othello foolishly trusts all men, or in the more elaborate phrase of Edward Dowden, 'he looks on men with a gaze too large and royal to suspect them of malignity and fraud". From there to Frank Harris's contemptuous term 'a credulous fool' is but a step. As a consequence, such a man, placed against the background of a highly civilized society, can know little of "all the humbug, pretence, selfishness, lust and vileness which-especially in a rich and refined society are rampant everywhere." Having entered innocently into a "hasty, ill-mated, and un- looked-for marriage," he seems almost foredoomed to lose his faith in his wife."...

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...hero reduced to a cold blooded murderer because of his jealousy, trust of a villain and, ironically, distrust of his own wife.

Works Cited

Cassal, Steve. "Shakespeare's OTHELLO." Explicator 61.3 (2003): 131. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.

Hadfield, Andrew. "Race in 'Othello': the 'History and Description of Africa' and the Black Legend." Notes and Queries. 45.3 (Sept. 1998): p336. From Literature Resource Center.

Jordan, Hoover H. "Dramatic Illusion in Othello." Shakespeare Quarterly 1.3 (1950): 146-152. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 29 Mar. 2010.

Neely, Carol Thomas. "Women and Men in Othello: 'What should such a fool/Do with so good a woman?'." Shakespeare Studies 10.(1977): 133. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 20 Mar. 2010.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Russ McDonald. New York: Pelican, 2001.
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