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Othello's Character Flaws Essay

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Othello: A Classic Example of a Tragic Hero October 28th, 2011 ENG3UE A tragic hero is an exceptional human being of public importance; they are of a virtuous nature often being able to generate the sympathy of others and their actions often affect whole communities and countries. Most of all, they have a hamartia; a fatal character flaw that causes the hero's downfall. It the tragic hero's hubris in the cases of Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and King Lear; and Hamlet's indecisiveness in Hamlet. In Shakespeare's tragedy Othello, this is no different. The tragic hero, Othello, is the general of the armies in Venice, and a Moor. He is an eloquent and exotic man who commands the respect of those around him. He has lived through many hardships as a soldier, which has elevated him to the position he holds now, as a general and the husband of Desdemona, whom he loves deeply. While the chaos that ensues at the end of the play is due to Iago's malicious manipulation of characters, Othello's individual downfall can be specifically attributed to his own weaknesses and character flaws. ...read more.


Thus implanting the idea that there is something to be jealous of in Othello's mind. Othello at firsts insists he must "see before [he] doubt[s],"(III.iii.190) Desdemona. Although near the end of this scene we find Othello convinced of Desdemona's betrayal with Cassio, yet there is no proof given. Out of jealousy and anger, Othello vows to, "tear [Desdemona] all to pieces," while wishing that Cassio "had forty thousand lives," because killing him "once is...too weak for [Othello's] revenge." (III.iii.435, 446-447) Although he asks Iago for proof, he becomes fully convinced after hearing only Iago's lies. This proves that Othello is a man who is very quick to become jealous. This is further seen after Desdemona speaks of the "love [she] bears to Cassio," in terms of friendship. Othello interprets it as her speaking of a romantic love and reacts violently, calling her a "Devil," and striking her. (IV.i.221, 229) We can see that Othello is set on his plans to murder Desdemona and Cassio long before any reasonable proof has been presented to him. ...read more.


Othello uses Cassio's apparent death as an excuse not to look into it. It is this lack of exploration into both sides of the situation that causes Othello to act quite rash in his plot to murder Desdemona and Cassio, and finally lead to his own death. Othello is a man of elegance and level-headedness. It is because of his abilities as a soldier and leader that he has been able to become a general of Venice. However, just like every tragic hero, he has a hamartia. Othello puts an astonishing amount of trust in Iago, who then maliciously takes advantage of this, convincing Othello of Desdemona's supposed unfaithfulness. Othello is quick to become jealous and then quite spiteful of Desdemona. Othello is then blinded by rage, being unable to think critically about the situation at present. He is therefore unable to distinguish what the truth is, and believes the man he has trusted for so long, Iago. It is the combination of these qualities that have amounted to Othello's downfall in the play. Iago simply planted an idea into the mind of Othello, whose jealousy, anger and irrationality sprouted it into something tragic. ...read more.

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