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Those qualities which made Othello heroic (or admirable or exceptional) also caused his suffering. To what extent is this statement true?

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Introduction

1. Those qualities which made Othello heroic (or admirable or exceptional) also caused his suffering. To what extent is this statement true? Tragedy is one of the oldest genres of drama, and has roots in Greek of antiquity. It has been practiced throughout the centuries. One such tragedy is William Shakespeare?s Othello, which follows the downfall of its eponymous tragic hero, Othello. However the definition of a tragic hero has changed throughout history, with many intellectuals offering their own opinions. On such man was A.C. Bradley, a renowned English literary scholar, remembered mainly for his analysis of the works of William Shakespeare. A.C. Bradley describes a tragic hero as ?...a person of high degree or of public importance...But this is not enough. His nature is also exceptional, and raised him in some respect above the average level of humanity.?[1] By studying the play, and A.C. Bradley?s definition of a tragic hero, it becomes obvious that the qualities that make Othello heroic also cause his suffering. However they do not do so alone. Iago?s ambitions to cause Othello suffering turn Othello?s admirable characteristics against him. By examining three of Othello?s heroic qualities, this relation between Iago?s desires and Othello?s distress can be revealed. The first of these characteristics is Othello?s position of power, whose consequences lead to Iago?s hatred. ...read more.

Middle

However the downside of his trust starts to already become apparent in the same scene. When the Duke asks Othello to leave an officer behind to transport all of Othello?s ?things..of quality and respect? (1.3.285) to Cyprus, Othello replies with ?...my ancient / A man he is of honesty and trust. / To his conveyance I assign my wife? (1.3.286-88). Othello trusts Iago enough to entrust him not only with his possessions, but with Desdemona herself. Desdemona is of extreme importance to Othello, and the fact that he is willing to hand her over to Iago, demonstrates his blind trust in Iago. This is an obvious mistake as immediately after Othello assigns his wife to him, Iago utters ?...He holds me well. / The better should my purpose work on him? (1.3.391-92), and also ?The Moor is of a free and open nature, / That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, / And will be led by the nose? (1.3.399-402). Iago himself realizes that Othello is easily trusting, and plans to use this against him. He believes that this easy trust will allow him to further his ambitions as Othello will be easy to fool. In Cyprus, this is proven true as Iago constantly poisons Othello?s mind against Desdemona. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is only after the murder that he realizes Desdemona is innocent. Othello comprehends that he did in fact lose his honour and reputation but it was through the act of murder of his wife. He loses the will to live itself, and as his question of his honour lasting longer than his integrity foreshadows his suicide. Through the manipulation of his reputation and honour, which was so useful to him previously, Iago inflicts the greatest suffering on to Othello, and though he is caught, his ambitions are finally realized. In summary, Othello possesses the exceptional qualities mentioned in A.C Bradley?s definition of a tragic hero. The qualities are valuable to him at the play?s beginning, but are turned against him. It is through Iago?s ambition to destroy the Moor that Othello?s qualities transform from admirable attributes to the root of his suffering. His power and authority, a desirable characteristic, goes from helping him influence others to inciting Iago?s hate, and starting the process of his downfall. His trusting nature leads him to placing his faith in Iago, thus allowing the latter in accomplishing his intentions. Lastly his reputation eventually leads to his fixation on his honour, and eventually ends in his death. Othello features a character that suffers throughout the book, and his heroic qualities along with Iago?s ambition lead to the play?s tragedy. ________________ [1] A.C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth (London: Macmillan,1905) 19-20. ...read more.

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