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In your opinion, how helpful to an understanding of Othello's character is it to think of him as a tragic hero?

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Introduction

CHRIS CARTER 12RC In your opinion, how helpful to an understanding of Othello's character is it to think of him as a tragic hero? I would agree that it is helpful to an understanding of Othello's character to think of him as a tragic hero. On the surface, the opinion may be different because he kills his wife and commits suicide to end his anguish. However, if we look deeper the suffering that Othello has to go through, and the way that this powerful and heroic character is tricked and knocked off his high perch by Iago (a lower status member of the army) he can be seen as a tragic hero. All Shakespeare's tragic heroes seem to have certain qualities that put them in this category. The main tragic hero qualities are charisma, military status and suffering. Shakespeare uses all these traits in the portrayal of Othello, as well as in his depiction of other tragic heroes such as Macbeth and Hamlet. Othello's is a character of high status and stature and this is reflected in his language. His charisma is built around his position. During the first scenes of the play, while it is set in Venice, he speaks mightily and confidently, undeterred by any threats put against him by other characters. When confronted by Brabantio, Othello calmly tells him to 'keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them' (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 59) ...read more.

Middle

and 'o that the slave had forty thousand lives!' (Act 3, Scene 3, Line 443), that at times it makes him come over arrogant because of his linguistic abilities and self-dramatisation. The stories he tells Desdemona are memorable and impressive. As Othello retells the story of his courtship in the Senate office, the Duke is so taken in that he understands how Brabantio's daughter was won by such stories. Othello seems to have the ability to transform the truth of his stories into poetry. However this rich imagination has a handicap: it makes Othello vulnerable to Iago's trickery. Othello's imagination runs wild with Iago's invented details and 'proofs', and Othello constantly focuses on the physical side of Cassio and Desdemona's supposed relationship. Unlike other Shakespearean tragic heroes, Othello is not a prince or a king, although he is descended from "men of royal siege". He has been a military man most of his life and his heroic victories in battle have found him success both in life and in love. He is seen as a professional soldier, a fine and courageous one, but still a hired general. I think that by placing him closer to the common people, such as Emilia, Bianca and Iago, Shakespeare makes Othello easier to identify with. His story could be our story, and his faults our faults. His rise though the ranks have meant Othello has had a complete change of lifestyle. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Desdemona tells Emilia that she does not 'think there is any such woman' who could cheat on a partner, we see her innocence both in her views on life as a whole, and on adultery. If Othello had been in the room at the same time as Desdemona and Emilia's conversation, then it is possible that Desdemona and Othello's death would not have occurred, and justice would have prevailed. There are also qualities about Othello that have a good side and a bad side. One of these is his open and trusting nature. Othello believes that others are honest and sincere until he has proof that they're not. This openhearted love of his fellow man makes Othello an attractive and generous friend and adds to his heroic qualities. But it also leaves him susceptible to Iago's scheming; Iago knows his plan will work because Othello trusts him and has no reason to suspect that his loyal lieutenant would scheme against him. Othello's confidence is fragile, which is one of his tragic traits. In conclusion Othello throughout the play shows that he is the typical tragic hero. He is charismatic because he inspires emotions and enthusiasm in his language, actions and manner. He has a long military history that gives him the status he has in the law abiding, Christian society of Venice. He is made tragic by the repercussions of Iago's scheming, as well as his fragile conscience that jumps to conclusions, and the pity this invokes. ...read more.

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