Looking at Othello as a Tragic Hero Essay

Looking at Othello as a Tragic Hero Essay

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Looking at Othello as a Tragic Hero

"Killing myself, to die upon a kiss."

Othello's death brings a sense of justice to the play, one of the main
forms and conventions of a tragedy. But if 'Othello' is a tragedy then
Othello must be a tragic hero.

Traditionally a tragedy follows the downfall of an individual who is
usually high up in society (such as a king). This downfall is
triggered by a fatal flaw in the tragic hero's character. During the
play the audience must have many different feelings towards the hero,
from respect to anger and maybe even pity. These may also turn to
terror, as people close to the hero are hurt. Fate is seen to be
predetermined and ensures that justice is seen to be done, which
always means the death of the hero. Before the tragic hero dies they
will learn the truth of their situation and make some attempt to amend
the wrongs committed.

These forms and conventions were first chartered by Aristotle and were
always used by him and other writers in tragedies. Shakespeare however
did not always stick to these conventions and would often change them
to suit his literary needs.

In this essay I will chart the development of Othello's character, to
establish whether or not Othello is a tragic hero.

Probably the most important rule of being a tragic hero is that the
person concerned is of noble birth so that their downfall is as
dramatic as possible.

At the beginning of the play neither Roderigo nor Iago seemed to look
upon Othello as a noble person. It seems that Iago is only pretending
to be loyal to him, he says "In following him, I follow but myself".
This suggests that his loyalty to Othe...

... middle of paper ...

...the first and probably most
noticeable is that he is black. Othello was the first main character
in any of Shakespeare's plays who was black and this would have seemed
extremely unusual to the Elizabethan audience at the time. Also he was
only a noble man, before this tragic heroes had always been kings.

From this we can conclude that Othello is a tragic hero, but what if
Shakespeare had not intended Othello to the tragic hero? We have
already seen how he breaks the rules to suit his needs. Shakespeare
could have intended someone else to be the hero, Desdemona for
example. Daughter of a Venetian senator, leaving her father for
Othello could have been what killed him and her faithful dying words
to Emilia and her husband mean she dies an honourable woman. She fills
just as many of the forms and conventions as Othello.

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