Othello: The Tragedy Of An Aristotelian Tragic Hero

1677 words - 7 pages

Shakespeare's play, “Othello, the Moor of Venice,” is a powerful example of a tragedy and it’s main character, Othello, is an excellent illustration of what Aristotle constitutes as a tragic hero. The play imitates life through basic human emotions such as jealousy and rage. In addition, Othello is far from being a perfect character - another quality that meets Aristotle's requirements. Othello also matches Aristotle's ideas of tragic hero because our Othello realizes the error of his ways, causing us to feel sympathy for him. If we carefully examine the third scene in the third act, we can see how Othello fits into Aristotle's definition of tragic hero. This passage reveals how much Othello has deteriorated as far as his ability to reason or consider things with Desdemona logically. Humanity seems to unravel in this scene as we watch Othello experience a myriad of emotions that only push him closer to the proverbial edge. We feel fear, sympathy, and pity as we watch the man transform before our eyes.
The tragedy of Othello has all of the different qualities that a play must have to be considered a tragedy. What defines a tragedy? Basically, a tragedy consists of the ultimate downfall of a tragic hero by his own error. In this play we are presented with Othello, the tragic hero of the play, whose character is defined as “a black man of courage and dignity - and yet insecure, capable of being fooled, a pushover for bad advice.” (Kennedy and Gioia, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing.; Shakespeare) This depiction of Othello tells us that he is naïve and all too quick to trust an individual, namely, Iago. Othello becomes so absorbed in Iago’s lies he loses sight of everything that he once valued to a high degree. The loss of friendship with his best friend, the murder of his wife, and the realization of his errors eventually lead him to a tragic suicide.
The highly emotional scenes in Othello give the audience a means of catharsis for the audience. It is necessary for this to transpire within a tragedy. H.A. Kelly writes in his book “Ideas And forms Of Tragedy From Aristotle To The Middle Ages” that “the representation generates certain passions in souls that moderate themselves, to pitying or fearing.” The reader connects with the powerful emotions of sadness in the story. The overwhelming feelings allow the reader to let out the suppressed feelings in a way that is allegedly therapeutic. Furthermore, Professor W.A. Neilson of Harvard University says “This is in part due to the splendor of its poetry, the absorbing nature of the plot, and the vividness of the drawing of characters who marvelously combine individuality with a universal and typical quality that makes them appeal to people of all kinds and races.” In the tragic story of Othello and Desdemona, pain and heartache is a paramount emotion from the beginning through to the end of the play. For example, the story begins with Iago and...

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