Is Othello a Tragic Hero? Essay

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To what extent can Othello be considered a ‘tragic hero’?

The extent of which Othello is a tragic hero has been open to much debate; the basis on which he is judged falls to Aristotle’s established view of the crucial elements that distinguish whether a person is truly tragic. According to Aristotle, a tragic protagonist is a nobleman or person from high status, who contributes to his own demise and illustrates a flaw or weakness in judgment. The tragic protagonist must make a fall from a high state of being to a low state or death. The tragic hero’s downfall, said Aristotle, was brought upon by some error of judgement. Aristotle’s theory is not the final word on tragedy, however it can support in pinpointing the pivotal traits in
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The quote exposes Othello as being unworthy of his noble title and reputation of being trustworthy and moral, both domestically and in profession as a soldier.

Striking a woman-even in the modern society- is attached with weakness and cowardice; so for Othello to publically humiliate and harm Desdemona, drastically lessens his argument of being a tragic hero and makes him somewhat ignoble. Desdemona's innocent references to Cassio goad Othello until he snaps and strikes her. When she says she is "glad" that Othello has been ordered to Venice and that Cassio will be in charge of Cyprus, he can't take anymore. The physical striking of Desdemona was not staged until the late 19th century by the actor Tommaso Salvini. The striking of Desdemona would have evoked strong feelings from a Jacobean audience. Unlike Othello, Lodovico is a true gentleman and his quote “This would not be believed in Venice!” emphasises the monstrosity of Othello’s action. This particular scene disproves Bradley’s theory that Othello is “the most romantic figure among Shakespeare’s heroes”.

Both Macbeth and Othello are prominent Jacobean tragedies that William Shakespeare created with notable tragic protagonists. The play Macbeth is an excellent work that closely follows Aristotle’s norms. Macbeth is a brave warrior in King Duncan’s Army who compromises his honour and neglects his moral responsibilities in the attainment of power and position which
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