Are Othello and Anakin Skywalker Tragic Heroes?

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Othello and Anakin

The characters of Othello, from Shakespeare's play Othello, and Anakin Skywalker, from George Lucas's Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, both experience very tragic events in their respective stories. However, neither of them truly qualifies as a tragic hero. According to Aristotle, in order for a character to be considered a tragic hero, he must meet certain criteria. While both Othello and Anakin have some of the attributes of a tragic hero, they lack others.

The first feature of a tragic hero, according to Aristotle, is that he is of noble stature. Both of these characters fit this criterion. They are both prominent and well-respected members of their respective societies with high-level connections in the government. Othello commands the military might of Venice. He has risen through the ranks from slavery to general. He has attained the respect and admiration of the people from a completely strange and alien society. Millicent Bell says, "The stranger with an exotic, almost mythical otherness has acquired a place within the order of Venice by his own efforts on behalf of a colonial empire" (1-2). Further, Hermann Ulrici says, "Othello, as painted by Shakespeare, is truly the noble excellent character he seems, and not one of mere conventional virtues" (3). When the island of Cyprus is attacked by the Ottomans, the Duke of Venice immediately summons Othello and sends him to defend the island. The Duke tells Othello, "Valiant Othello, we most straight employ you / Against the general enemy Ottoman" (1. 3. 48-49). Othello is definitely of noble stature.

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Anakin Skywalker, like Othello, has also risen up from slavery to a prominent military role. He is a young Jedi Knight who is secretly seeing a female senator and has a close relationship with the Chancellor of the Republic. His relationship with the Chancellor allows him to become the youngest person to sit on the ruling body of the Jedi, the Jedi Council, despite the objections of other influential Jedi. The character Yoda responds to Anakin's appointment by saying, "Allow this appointment lightly, the Council does not. Disturbing is this move by Chancellor Palpatine." Although Anakin is young, he is ...

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