• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent does Shakespeare present Othello as responsible for his own downfall?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐To what extent does Shakespeare present Othello as responsible for his own downfall? The character of Othello can be viewed in relation to the theories of tragedy described in Aristotle?s Poetics, with specific reference to the categories of hamartia and hubris. Additionally, it could be considered that his high-status conforms to Aristotle?s emphasis on such characters. Consequently, the murders that occur at the end of the play reveal the extent to which his noble character has fallen. At the same time, it is clear that other factors intervene, such as the machinations of Iago and the effects of chance. This combination of influences and attributes is characteristic of Jacobean tragedy as a whole. This is perhaps best exemplified in the opening pages of Othello where Brabantio claims ?This accident is not unlike my dream?, (I. i) clearly suggesting an inevitable foreshadowing of the events to come. This view is not synonymous with the aspect of the Aristotelian model which prescribes the hamartia of the tragic hero at the epicentre of the reasons for his downfall. To analyse Othello?s role in his own downfall, the height from which he falls, both socially and emotionally, should be considered. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare frequently refers to Othello as a ?moor?. Although it was not uncommon for foreigners to hold positions of power in the Venetian courts, and indeed the concept of ?racism? was hardly established, it is clear that quotations such as ?old, black ram? refers to the colour of Othello?s skin and further hints at the suspicion of witchcraft. This view could not be presented without reference to Othello?s bitter exclamation ?O, blood, blood, blood? (III. iii) that reveals Shakespeare?s allusion to a practising of the ?dark arts?. It is difficult to be sure in this instance whether Shakespeare intends to comment on people?s misconceptions of race or to suggest allusions to Othello?s sinister and dangerous traits that allow him to be so successful in the field of war, but which are also the foundation of his un-doing. There are significant arguments to contradict the latter view as, throughout the play, there are clear references to Othello?s transparent nature, such as his pledge in Act 1 to deliver ?a round, unvarnished tale?. (I. iii) If this interpretation is to be accepted, there should be less focus on the ?inner evil? within Othello, that allows him to murder his adoring wife than on his naivety within the culture of Venetian society. ...read more.

Conclusion

Othello?s role in his own downfall cannot be entirely explained on grounds of his naivety. Othello?s hubris and concern for his outward image add hugely to the emotions of jealousy and paranoia that Iago intends to provoke within him. It could be suggested that this sense of pride is an element of his cultural background and personal history as a ?warrior?. However this flaw is unique to him throughout the play and from this it could be concluded Shakespeare intends to mark it as a reason for his demise. There is perhaps no better quotation to support this view than ?O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial?. (II. iii) Although the impact of the above quotation is undeniably positive in terms of our view of Othello, it could be argued that the intense commitment to the idea of reputation has considerable negative implications. It is undoubtedly portrayed here that he would have guarded his reputation over his love of Desdemona as he regards it as the single most important thing in his life. According to this view, Iago is little more than a catalyst in Othello?s fall and it can then be argued that the description of Iago as a ?demi-devil? (IIIII. ii) accurately reflects the limitations of his responsibility in the downfall of Othello. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent is language central to the understanding of Othello and Macbeth

    4 star(s)

    By Act III Iago has managed to contaminate Othello's soul and has used Othello's flaws, his capacity for sexual jealousy and inability to cope with uncertainty and humiliation, to turn him against Desdemona. We wonder whether the monster that Iago produces was always hidden inside Othello, as Macbeth's 'vaulting ambition' (I vii l.27)

  2. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does Shakespeare present the catastrophe of Othello as inevitable?

    3 star(s)

    and the protagonist (Othello). After Brabantio has heard Iago's crude description of Othello "tupping your white ewe", he accuses Othello of bewitching his daughter but later on gradually accepts this and warns him that Desdemona may even deceive Othello as she did to him, this is remembered by Othello and

  1. Peer reviewed

    In what ways does Shakespeare present Othello as a typical tragic hero?

    3 star(s)

    These are the opposites of the noble qualities, such as being cool headed, that he displayed before. In 5.2 Othello justifies killing Desdemona, seeing himself in the role of avenging justice, "I have done the state some justice". He could have loved Desdemona too much (335)

  2. How does Shakespeare present Iago?

    This can also be seen as the gods having judged Iago, and a life of pain and suffering is their sentence. At the time of the play the Turks were presented as devils in human form, 'circumcised dogs' for Muslims or any non-believers of the Christian faith would be seen as heretics.

  1. Free essay

    To what extent is Iago responsible for the downfall of other characters in Othello?

    However, Shakespeare has chosen to alter this in the case of Iago, which also helps to reflect his manipulative nature, as he is able to speak in both ways in order to use different people according to their characters. He talks in prose mainly when speaking to characters individually, which enables them to be taken into his confidence.

  2. ACT IV-SCENE III- close analysis+ focus on Desdemona and Emilias contrasting views of marriage. ...

    She does not blindly obey Othello, though he is a man and also her superior in social rank, instead questioning his "command[s]", she queries not only Othello's command itself, but also Desdemona's compliance in the carrying out of said command, whilst also appearing to question Othello's motives, all by her simple utterance of, "dismiss me?"

  1. To what extent does Shakespeare present Iago as a tragic villain with no redeeming ...

    For example, Desdemona is portrayed on the surface as "sweet", "inclining" and "right modest" - hardly suitable descriptions for a woman who has defied her father for the black Othello; an unthinkable act in Shakespeare's time. Iago is no exception to this complexity; indeed he must not be if the other characters are to remain balanced and believable.

  2. To what extent do you agree that the character Othello is responsible for his ...

    to the Aristotelian definitions of ?tragedy,? some may argue that it is therefore Shakespeare who is responsible for Othello?s downfall, by in the exposition establishing Othello as having certain characteristics of a tragic hero to an audience schooled in classical literature, his downfall is inevitable.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work