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Is Iago the real hero in Shakespeares Othello?

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Introduction

Is Iago the real hero in Shakespeare's Othello? Contrary to the mainstream belief of Othello being the tragic hero, I think Iago is the real hero in Shakespeare's Othello the moor of Venice. A traditional hero defined as a "a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities." This definition however does not apply to Iago, who is a far more complex hero. He is more similar to the 'Byronic' hero which is a sub type of anti hero. A Byronic hero is: "A character of larger-than-life flaws, he generally has very few (if any) redeeming qualities beyond panache and seldom performs any of the heroic actions that are usually required of an Anti Hero. In some cases, the "hero" part of the name seems to be there only because he tends to be a primary protagonist and thus is a Designated Hero."1 The word 'panache' used here means "a dashing manner; style; swagger ". This certainly applies to Iago whose attitude and charisma is a big part of his character. Iago is not the type of hero described in the ancient philosopher Aristotle' works. ...read more.

Middle

2 This is mainly shown through the downfall of the main character from a high position leading to the eventual death. But if you take away the audiences support (feelings of sympathy and empathy etc) and the downfall from a 'high position in society', then Othello will just be a barely civilized barbarian, who murders his wife in a savage bout jealousy at the slightest rumours. And it would match the stereotypes about black people being hot-headed and rash. Another thing that sets Iago apart fro Othello is his use of language. Although Othello is very eloquent and poetic in his use of language at the start of the play, it shows a pattern of steady deterioration. Othello's language becomes more barbaric. "O, blood, blood, blood!" (III.iii.452) In contrast, Iago's use of language is his main tool of manipulation. In Act I scene I he uses vulgar bestial imagery to provoke a reaction from Brabantio: "Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe" (I.i.88-89) Moments later, he yells to Brabantio: "you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse; you'll have your nephews neigh to you; you'll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans" (I.i.111-114) ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago replies that Othello has plenty of company because every city is full of cuckolds. Othello then asks if Iago has heard Cassio confess that he had sex with Desdemona. Rather than give a direct answer to Othello's question, Iago keeps talking about the difference between a beast and a man. He says, "Good sir, be a man; / Think every bearded fellow that's but yoked / May draw with you" (IV.i.65-67). "Think," like "be," is a command; Iago is again telling Othello that there are many other men who are cuckolds, and that he should take it like a man. At the same time, his metaphor suggests that Othello is a beast after all. Oxen are yoked so that they can pull ("draw") a plow, and Iago uses the oxen's yoke as a metaphor for marriage. In short, any married is likely to be a beastly cuckold. At the end of the same scene, after Othello thinks he has overheard Desdemona confess her love for Cassio, Othello exits with the exclamation, "Goats and monkeys!" (IV.i.263), which is an echo of Iago's earlier statement to Othello . Thus we see how Iago's beastly imagery has taken root in Othello's mind. 1 http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ByronicHero 2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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