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What is Othello's tragic flaw?

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Introduction

What is Othello's tragic flaw? The extravagant language and literary techniques used in Shakespeare's Othello enhance the settings, characters, and themes. Othello, an intricate tragedy about good versus evil, loyalty, love, sexual jealousy, and appearance versus reality, is told in a first person point of view. The play is entitled Othello and the plot and action encompasses him, thus supporting his position of protagonist. The play takes place during the Renaissance in Venice, Italy and in Cyprus over three days. The opening scene of Othello is very dramatic as it begins in the middle of a disagreement or argument between two of the characters, Iago and Roderigo. Iago is a corrupt individualist who bitterly despises Othello, and his villainous scheme for revenge results in the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, his own wife and Roderigo, a suitor of Desdemona. There is suspense as Iago and Roderigo talk of two men. One who is named and another who is referred to as 'he' or 'him'. This creates an enigma or feeling of suspense as the audience wonder who 'he' is. The reason being that Iago presents 'him' in a negative way, "...he, as loving his own pride and purposes...". This shows Othello or 'he' to be boastful and perhaps even egotistical and full of pride. The enigma continues when Iago says, "I follow to serve my turn upon him". ...read more.

Middle

He also is willing to stand up in front of Senate and announce his love for Desdemona and how it was founded. "She loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them". This shows that he is under no illusions as to why Desdemona first fell in love with him, because he had such an exciting life. It is only when Iago starts to work on him that Othello begins to doubt Desdemona, this is when he begins to lose his self-knowledge and confidence, thus helps to increase his level of tragic flaw in the play as he becomes totally dependant on Iago. Only Iago views Othello stereotypically, as animalistic and a 'foolish outsider'. Iago leads him "through the nose" like a stupid animal, an "ass" and is able to control Othello like a puppeteer. Iago continually plants thoughts of sexual jealousy and suspicion in Othello's mind and is always trying to convince Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful and is having an affair with Cassio. In the play's climax in Act III, scene three Iago's believable words and fictitious incidents finally convince Othello that his wife is disloyal to him. Here Iago starts to unveil his malicious plan and Othello comes to completely trust the deceitful Iago and distrust his own honest wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

Is't possible? Confess! Handkerchief! O devil!" This line does not even make any sense, it has no rhythm and is broken up into exclamations revealing his disordered mind and the depths to which he has sunk. He begins like Iago to use animal imagery "goats and monkeys" and reverts to violence, he also hits Desdemona. His self-mastery has deserted him totally. He has become an Elizabethan stereotype of a barbaric Moor who talks of magic. Another factor that adds to Othello's tragic flaw is that Desdemona is so totally innocent of the crime she has been accused of. This is shown in the way she cannot even bring herself to say the word "whore", that Othello has accused her of being. "Such as she said my lord did say I was". Othello kills this na�ve, innocent, good woman who he still loves passionately. "This sorrow's heavenly; It strikes were it doth love." The ending of the play highlights the fact that Iago's destruction of Othello and Desdemona was so totally pointless. He never gave a real intention, only vague suspicions that "twixt my sheets he's (Othello's) done my office" and because Othello promoted Cassio above him. Iago does not seem to get any pleasure from the outcome of his plan, although this may be because he has been found out. The death of these two noble, basically good people, and Emilia, seem by the end to have been for no reason at all, Othello demands one but Iago only replies "What you know, you know". ...read more.

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