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In What Ways Does The Character Of Othello Conform to Literary Tradition Of The Tragic Hero?

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In What Ways Does The Character Of Othello Conform to Literary Tradition Of The Tragic Hero? Othello is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies entwined with death, hate and deceit. It tells the story of a well respected and admired war hero, who gradually through the play falls from grace. We are told how jealousy overcomes him so greatly that he murders his innocent lover, and how the resentful Iago seeks revenge on other characters in the play as he envies their positions of power and authority and uses lies, stealing and even murder to get revenge. Another theme explored in the play is racism. We know Othello has worked hard to overcome racial prejudices in society to reach such a point of great authority and respect, and this makes his story even more tragic because it wasn't as if all that power and status was just given to him. It was his life's work, it meant everything to him and then he lost it all. In literary tradition a tragic hero is a courageous person who has authority and power yet loses it all. The steps a tragic hero makes during his decline are entirely his own. Although influenced by another, the tragic hero always displays free will, and the decisions that lead to his demise are his own, which means that had he of been more careful his death could have been avoided. It was Othello's fault because of his lack of trust in Desdemona, which resulted in the destruction of them both. Tragic heroes do not necessarily need to die; however they do in all the plays written by Shakespeare. If they do live, then they are destined to suffer moral destruction and lose sense of what is right and wrong, blinded by their feelings and the suffering that they have experienced. It is crucial that a tragic hero possesses many good personality traits, even if he is a bad person and has evil intentions such as Macbeth, but they must all have one fatal flaw. ...read more.


The language at this time of the play moves very swiftly from positive to negative, as if we can feel the evil Iago has created gradually spreading everywhere. We can also see in the quote language which is very poetic, and a great use of metaphors such as how he refers to Desdemona as a 'cherubin' as she seemed so good and innocent. This is unusual for Othello as earlier in the play he scorns his own use of poetic language: 'I prattle out of fashion...' (act2scene1) Here he is referring to his speech to Desdemona after their arrival in Cyprus, and is admitting to himself that he is usually a far more plain speaker without fancy language or poetic phrases. This would suggest that either Desdemona brings out a different more romantic side in him, or that he is playing a role in front of her to convince them both that he is a perfect lover as well as soldier. Now by using this poetic style language, which he scorned before, to convey his anger the audience are struck by the feeling that he has been encompassed by some kind of change, and it signifies the success of Iago's plan. The final scene of Othello is constructed in such a way that speeches of dramatic eloquence are entwined with straightforward dialogue. Othello is now completely convinced that he must kill Desdemona, and he tries to justify himself by saying he is doing it for the good of other men. I think another flaw in Othello's character is that his work, fighting as a hero for his people and killing enemies, is so much a part of even his everyday life, that he has become blinded by jealousy and in a kind of madness is suggesting that killing Desdemona has to be done as part of his duty. What really makes him a tragic hero is that he had led himself to believe that what he is about to do is correct, yet he still loves her and so he is confused. ...read more.


He may kill himself because he feels that he deserves it for doing such a think, but I also think that his dignity plays a big part as he wants to retain some of that and his pride. He refers to himself as a 'Turk' in this passage, which of course his is, but he has always been recognised as part of the Venetian society, and never referred to as that. He is trying to make the point that he is their servant and enemy and will never truly be one of them because of his colour. By this we can tell that he truly has lost all his pride and self assurance, as he never made any statements about this before and always believed in himself and that he could succeed. It has all been the simple emotion of jealousy inside him that has caused the deaths of an innocent woman, a brave and noble man and a passionate love affair. I think that Othello is a true tragic hero because he goes from such a height of greatness to such shame and disgrace. He loses everything. He clearly makes his own decisions, even though he is greatly influenced by Iago. Then at the end of the play he recognises his mistakes and sees his fatal flaw: that he was too trusting of Iago and that jealousy blinded his love, and led him to become what he has. His character has changed - from the beginning of the play, where he is confident, proud and well-respected - to the end when he is remorseful, full of shame and looked down on in disgrace. However he has remained determined all the time to do what he believes, and has always been honest even though people haven't been with him. The play evokes feelings of frustration and sadness: frustration at the ignorance of Othello about the characters around him, and sadness at the cost of his actions, and loss of an innocent life. Othello is completely in the tradition of a literary tragic hero and dies a victim of his own making. ...read more.

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