Othello's Tragic Flaw
The extravagant language and literary techniques used in Shakespeare's
Othello enhance the settings, characters, and themes. Othello, an
intricate tragedy about good versus evil, loyalty, love, sexual
jealousy, and appearance versus reality, is told in a first person
point of view. The play is entitled Othello and the plot and action
encompasses him, thus supporting his position of protagonist.
The play takes place during the Renaissance in Venice, Italy and in
Cyprus over three days. The opening scene of Othello is very dramatic
as it begins in the middle of a disagreement or argument between two
of the characters, Iago and Roderigo. Iago is a corrupt individualist
who bitterly despises Othello, and his villainous scheme for revenge
results in the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, his own wife and
Roderigo, a suitor of Desdemona.
There is suspense as Iago and Roderigo talk of two men. One who is
named and another who is referred to as ‘he’ or ‘him’. This creates an
enigma or feeling of suspense as the audience wonder who ‘he’ is. The
reason being that Iago presents ‘him’ in a negative way, “…he, as
loving his own pride and purposes…”. This shows Othello or ‘he’ to be
boastful and perhaps even egotistical and full of pride. The enigma
continues when Iago says, “I follow to serve my turn upon him”. The
audience find this chilling, and wonder how this storyline will
develop and how Iago will take revenge on Othello.
In the time this play was written, even the Queen was xenophobic,
“(banishing) the great number of niggers and black moors which are
crept into this realm…who are fostered and relieved here to the great
annoyance of her own liege people, that want (lack) the relief which
those people consume.” Queen Elizabeth 1’s proclamation of 1601.
Therefore the term ‘Moor’ used for Othello throughout the play may
have or not shocked the audience, as it is a racist remark. One of
Othello’s focal flaws would be his colour. One could argue is Othello
is a racist play? This play does conform to the stereotypical image of
a Moor; the play opens with racist language, ‘Moorship’, ‘the thick
lip’, ‘Old black ram’. At the start of the play when he is seen heroic
and noble, he is seen as being ‘more fair than black’, however when he
kills Desdemona he is the ‘blackest devil’. On the other hand
Shakespeare has dealt with the issues of race, and has written about
it, he challenges stereotypical labels such as ‘Moor’ and exposes
racism. However Othello clearly feels himself to be an outsider, “your
great business”. “Your” implies that he does not feel himself to be
part of Venice, he does not say “we”. Iago expects this feeling
Othello has very cleverly by appearing as a world-weary man,
knowledgeable of Venice and Venetian women.
Othello is a prestigious...