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Othello – tragic hero

Shakespeare caters to the taste of the Elizabethan audience who hungered for the strange and mysterious. The tragic hero’s eloquence is portrayed with his rich stock of images, anecdotes and illusions.. In his time, Shakespeare’s company reigned supreme and his plays were a hit at the theatres. The audience lacked formal education but were full of wit to analyze and capture each and every move of the play. The spoken word was the most important and the only device to mesmerize the audience. Tragedy, basically applies to literary and dramatic representations of actions which turn out to be disastrous for the chief character.

A tragic hero evokes our pity and terror as he turns out into a perfect blend of the good and the evil. It is usually a higher moral fiber and ethics that the audience seeks for in his hero. The hero emerges stronger if he is better than the audience in his morality. Shakespearean tragic play, Othello portrays the hero as a sufferer as he journeys from bliss to misery. He is led by hamartia or the error of judgment. The tragic hero persuades the audience as he stands for virtue and good than evil. He thus evokes the sympathy of the audience in no time.

Othello is a righteous gentleman, one who not only has elegance amidst women but also possesses all the merits of a military organizer. He is a full seasoned general in the battlefield. He has shown that he is trustworthy and famous in the military services. His gallant persona is what monopolizes people to him. This happens with Desdemona as well. The senators value and acknowledge him. . This is shown here by one of the senators. “Here comes Barbantio and the valiant Moor”, (Act I scene 3, 47), this is an instance of the many remarks which show Othello’s character and personality as a human being and an official.

They speak very high of this virtues. Not only does he posses great character and courage, but also dignity. Character is destiny and not destiny is character in Othello. The tragic hero, Othello, commits many serious blunders. He suffers grievously for those blunders and is ultimately marred by that great deficiency of character. A major symptom of a tragic hero, that Othello shows, is his rage and jealousy, in Act III, scene 3, when Iago poisons his ears with ill thoughts about Desdemona, that she is a whore. Othello falls prey to the sly mechanization of Iago.

This, further renders Othello as an even more tragic hero. Othello trusts too easily. His simplicity does not diminish his greatness but only shows that he is more humane. He fail to distinguish between the genuine from the false. However Iago’s reputation in the battle field is well known and is not flawed. So it can be said that Othello has a number of tragic flaws, one of them is trustworthiness. Othello fulfills all the criteria set apart by Sophocles, and thereby proves himself to be the tragic hero. He, however, possesses all the aspects of a tragic hero.

These are, in no particular order, having a high social position, not being overly good or bad, being tenacious in their actions, arousing pity in the audience, a revelatory manifestation, and having a single flaw that brings about their own demise and the demise of others around them. Othello possesses all of these traits thereby qualifying as the tragic hero. Othello is a perfect example of a drama with a tragic hero and plot. By the frankness of his aspiration and malice he arouses sympathy in a small proportion in the minds of the audience.

by distress and remorse, Othello kills himself, saying that he would be remembered as one who once lived for the well being of Venice, and one who loved his beloved too deeply. . Shakespeare presents all of the elements spectacularly in Othello to prove him as the tragic hero. For a tragedy to occur there are five conditions. The protagonist, Othello in this case, must experience a death or a total loss of ranking in society. The audience must also be captured by the actors and feel some sort of connection to them. This is known as catharsis.

Othello also has a tragic flaw or a character defect . This tragic flaw along with pride causes the protagonist to make an error in judgement leading him to his downfall and eventual death. These two elements are called hubris and hamartia. The downfall of the central character is the main concept of the tragedy. Without the main character’s downfall there is no reason for the reader to feel pity, therefore, no tragedy. Hubris and Hamartia are two components of a Shakespearean tragedy that are very much intertwined because of their basis on pride.

Hubris is when the protagonist is consumed with pride and believes that fate can be beaten. Evidence of Othello’s pride is based on the thought, “No one messes around with Othello! ” This becomes his eventual downfall. The reader remembers in act III, scene 3 when Iago had planted false evidence of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness; Othello reacted in a very calm way, mostly in disbelief.. The downfall of the protagonist in Shakespearean tragedies always originates from their tragic flaw. Othello’s tragic flaw is his covetousness, which Iago constantly reminds him about.

This is first brought about in act III, scene 3 when Iago asks Othello if he has “Seen a handkerchief spotted with strawberries… did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with” (III, 3, 431-432/435-436). Many scholars acclaim Othello as Shakespeare’s most perfect tragic hero because he encompasses all of the elements of a protagonist so wonderfully. The love shared between Othello and Desdemona at the beginning of the play is spectacular. The guilt and wrong felt by Othello after he realizes his error in judgment is incomparable to the drama in Shakespeare’s other tragedies.

Any audience viewing Othello for the first time would be captured by the characters because of their relation to the audience. In all probability, Othello can be titled ‘the most tragic hero’ that Shakespeare has ever created. Reference: The Cambridge to Shakespearean tragedies. ISBN: 9780521793599; Editor: McEachern, Claire ; A Critical Study of Ideology of Shakespearean Tragedies/Raveendra Kurup. New Delhi, Anmol, 2003, ISBN 81-261-1566-1. Publisher: Cambridge… Shakespeare William, Othello (GBP 13. 99). Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks, ISBN-13: 9789626342060,

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