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

Tracing His Progress Throughout The Play, Examine Othello's Presentation as 'Tragic Hero.'

Extracts from this document...


__________________________________________________________Christina Hardinge Tracing His Progress Throughout The Play, Examine Othello's Presentation as 'Tragic Hero.' There are many definitions of a 'tragedy' and Aristotle's is most accurate for 'Othello': "A play inspiring fear and pity in which the protagonist moves from the highest point to the lowest." This is so in 'Othello' as the eponymous protagonist moves from the savior of the state to a mentally disturbed suicidal murderer. The traditional mould of the Shakespearean tragic hero understands and accepts his tragic fate. However, Othello reacts differently. Othello was the first Black character in English literature causing an immediate impact on audiences. Shakespeare knew many Elizabethan's would be prejudiced and associate Othello with brutality, ignorance, evil and sexual immorality; the qualities of a 'Blackman.' This is mainly reflected through the characters Iago and Roderigo in the opening scene. We do not meet Othello until the second scene, a technique used in many of Shakespeare's tragedies as an effective theatrical device which builds suspense for the protagonist's first entrance. We learn of a strong negative impression towards him which will confirm the Elizabethans original thoughts. Stereotyped as 'black', Othello is expected to practice magic and be connected with evil, which is portrayed by Iago and Roderigo as they patronizingly nickname him, "The Devil," "His Moorship," "Thicklips," "Old black ram," and "Barbary horse"; and Arabian through bred, a reference designed to evoke Othello's Barbarism. ...read more.


In Othello's first soliloquy he proves he has immense trust in Iago; "This fellow is of exceeding honesty." This is also shown, as Othello's certainty of his trust in Desdemona is set against his faith in Iago; "My life upon her faith: honest Iago." "I think my wife be honest, and think she is not / I think that thou art just, and think thou art not..." This is the point Othello chooses whether to place his trust in Iago over Desdemona, torn between suspicion and loyalty, trying to determine the truth. However, Othello misplaces his trust into Iago. At the end of the play, Othello's obsession with Desdemona's "unloyalty" is so overwhelming that he sees killing her the only way to achieve "justice." He is angry when she denies any wrongdoing because "thou...makest me call what I intend to do / A murder, which I thought a sacrifice." However, Othello's imagery is somewhat contradictory, compounded of both love and the desire to damn evil. Desdemona's skin is "smooth as monumental alabaster," she is "rose," and her "balmy breath," almost persuades him to abandon his act. However, his jealousy, mistrust and pride in Iago all cause him to put his love a side. Like Hamlet and King Lear, Othello realizes too late that his fate is to become the instrument of his own destruction; "An honorable murderer if you will: / For nought did I in hate, but all in honour." ...read more.


His question proves that he recognises his wife's honour, not his own and when we realise Othello has "another weapon in this chamber," we know that he will use it on himself, and inflict the punishment he deserves in an act of an honourable suicide. Othello is lost: he has no wife or profession to sustain him. It is significant that he now prepares to use the weapon he has used to kill others on himself: he takes control of his own fate as he used to determine the fates of enemies. The hero sees himself in a new and reduced light. He speaks of his 'little arm' and describes the 'impediments' he has made his way through on the battlefield not so much to boast, but to show that he knows he is diminished. Other lines suggest this too; he is as he says at his "journey's end". This phrase suggests Othello's weariness, as does the line, "but a rush against Othello's breast" and he dies declaring his love for Desdemona with a kiss. Othello's suicide maybe interpreted as the only courageous soldierly option open to him, or that in his despair he escapes into death because his spirit is broken. In his death Othello seems to regain some of his earlier nobility and regains a clearer, saner perspective on the word, only when it is too late. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Othello essays

  1. Dramatic Impact in Othello

    He refers to Brabantio by name, but, dismissively, identifies Othello only by his ethnicity. In contrast, the Duke says: "Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you Against the general enemy Ottoman." Immediately, we know that the Duke sees Othello as the man to solve this crisis.

  2. "Is Othello a tragic hero? Discuss your views of him as a key protagonist ...

    Othello was both great and weak. In the end, it was his greatness that led to his downfall. Othello was too proud, too successful, too noble, and he was unable to believe that he had ever been wrong. Once he lost his pride and dignity, he had nothing else left

  1. Is Othello a 'noble hero' brought down by 'a devil of motiveless malignity' or ...

    We learn Iago's name in the second line of the play and Roderigo's soon after, but Othello is not mentioned by his name once. Instead he is referred to as 'he', 'him' and is frequently described as 'the moor' (1.1.58)

  2. Othello as Tragic Hero

    Iago reputation on the battle field is well known and is not tarnished. With Othello being a military leader for most of his life, trusting another military friend, is not uncommon, and therefore, Othello has no reason not to believe or trust Iago.

  1. In What Ways Does The Character Of Othello Conform to Literary Tradition Of The ...

    Othello talks about what he is going to do as if it is something that has to be done, as if he is putting an animal out of its misery: 'It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul:' He thinks that he is sacrificing her to an ideal rather than murdering her in vengeful hatred.

  2. The presentation of Desdemona In Othello

    It must also take a lot of strength to resist defying Othello just having been struck by him. Desdemona shows her strength towards the end of the play. This is a scene in which Desdemona is a very strong character, this scene is the conclusion of the play.

  1. Othello" is a tragedy and Othello is a tragic hero. Discuss

    Othello says that he is not afraid of being found by Brabantio as his good qualities and the service he has done will speak for him. Shakespeare makes the audience admire him even though he is a black man. Iago is not represented as a likeable character in the whole play.

  2. Examine the presentation of Othello in Act One

    Once we meet Othello in Act One we realise he is not the man that Roderigo and Iago have described him as. However, throughout the remainder of the rest of the play Othello descends into many of the things Iago and Roderigo describe him as; he becomes irrational, untrustworthy where

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