The Flaws Of Othello, Murderer Of Desdemona

1733 words - 7 pages

In Shakespeare’s play Othello, the main character Othello is typically victimized and portrayed as a mere scapegoat of the villainous Iago’s devious plans. However, Othello is not completely void of responsibility for the death of his wife. Othello, the tragic hero, is just as responsible as Iago for his premeditated murder of Desdemona due to his own internal flaws. Specifically, flaws such as his vivid imagination and his self over-idealization are brought to the surface by Iago, which consequently allows Iago to easily manipulate Othello.
Othello, a tragic hero full of hidden flaws, attempts to appear as a man of only logic and bravery, and not subjected to human emotions. His spectacle begins with his storytelling at Brabantio’s household. As Othello reveals to the Duke of Venice:
Her father loved me, oft invited me,
Still questioned me the story of my life
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes
That I have past…
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hair-breadth scrapes i’th’ imminent-deadly breach,
Of taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence…
And of the cannibals that each other eat,
The anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. (I.iii.127-144)

Othello states that Brabantio had been interested in stories of Othello’s courageous adventures and hardships he had overcame. To satisfy Brabantio’s desire to hear of such stories, Othello tells about his adventures on land and sea, his near-death experiences, being taken and placed into slavery, and then his emancipation. As Othello continues, he also speaks of cannibals and men with severe deformity, such that their head grew under their shoulders rather than upon their shoulders. However, these are merely stories that Othello are telling, and it is not with certainty that these events actually happened. There is no one to validate his stories, and they may only be the products of Othello’s expansive imagination. In the essay “Othello: Comedy in Reverse,” Stephen Rogers notes, “It exhibits his imagination [Othello’s], the vividness of which will torment him” (211). Rogers speaks of Othello’s imagination becoming his bane; due to his incredibly imaginative mind, Othello is able to envision the supposed affair between Cassio and Desdemona regardless of the lack of concrete evidence. Once his mind has been set upon the authenticity of the affair, he overlooks logic and there is nothing to convince him otherwise, not even evidence against the allegations.
Othello, similar to many tragic heroes, possesses the flaw of hubris or, excessive self-confidence. However, Othello goes even further than just being over-confident, he over-idealizes himself. In the same scene that Othello is speaking to the Duke, prior to his storytelling, he states:
Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not
To please the palate of my appetite,
Nor to comply with heat (the young affects)

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