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...
... middle of paper ...
...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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