Human Virtue And Love In William Shakespeare's Othello

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The Moor of Venice, arguably the most romantic and poetic of all Shakespearean heroes, epitomises both humane virtue and human flaws. This Aristotelian characterisation is particular for a playwright living in an age where racially stratified classes were the norm and the black man was synonymous with a slew of interior, even subhuman characteristics. These contextual values, however, heightened the manifestations of Othello’s fatal flaw - his self-assured extremism - in his relationships with himself, Iago and Desdemona, culminating eventually in mutual destruction. In this way, the bard captivates his audience through the representation of human relationships, both with the self and with others, that becomes corrupted by the intensity of ones passion.

Despite his wealth of lived experiences and weathered outward appearance, Othello’s hamartia dictates his hyperawareness of subtle but damaging social cues in his racially intolerant context. His sensitivity often causes an elevated intensity of self doubt, escalating into a destructive potential that nullifies his ability to control his instinctual, irrational and emotional responses. Mirroring the deprecation of the black identity in both the setting of the drama and its context, Othello’s appearance is delayed until after the introduction of three white men - Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio. This structural choice positions Othello as the outsider and latecomer to the white man’s world, one whose position remains forever
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