William Shakespeare's Othello as a Classic Tragic Hero Essay

William Shakespeare's Othello as a Classic Tragic Hero Essay

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         Simply defined, a tragedy always entails the downfall of the protagonist. As a common standard in tragedy, the protagonist, or "tragic hero" is of high standing who is faced with some opposing force whether internal or external.

"Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these- thought and character- are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions, again all success or failure depends...."

This excerpt from Aristotle's Poetics illustrates an aspect of tragedy upon which many works, including Shakespeare's Othello, are based. In Poetics, Aristotle expresses the writer's obligation to create what is known as a "tragic hero" in all forms of tragedy. He further explains that this persona must be dominated by a "hamartia" or tragic flaw which leads to his downfall. Prevalently in Othello, the protagonist, Othello, can be seen as a classic tragic hero who is opposed by the strong force of his innate naiveté and over-trust as flaws in his otherwise virtuous character. Through the rapid development of the play, we see Othello's character disintegrate as a result of his growing jealousy and are finally stricken by a powerful catharsis where despite his wrongdoing, the reader feels pity for Othello and his mis...

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...ty of Nebraska Press, 1993.


Muir, Kenneth. Introduction. William Shakespeare: Othello. New York: Penguin Books, 1968.


Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.


Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.


Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. LaMar. ?The Engaging Qualities of Othello.? Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Introduction to The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare. N. p.: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1957

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