Othello Character Analysis

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Othello is the eponymous hero of ‘Othello’, so naturally he is Shakespeare’s strongest voice throughout the play. There are many labels thrust upon him: general, husband, outsider, Moor; each label bringing stereotypes that Othello subverts and perpetuates in differing speeches throughout the play. Othello’s development from husband to cuckold to widower is set alongside his fall from mental stability and grace in the eyes of God. The role of man was all encompassing in Jacobean England, a man was meant to be responsible for everything in the public eye, and not only does Othello’s race set him apart from the stereotypical Jacobean general, but his mental deterioration continues to make him a stark contrast from what a man was meant to be in Jacobean England.

Othello begins the play as a confident and rational man whose prowess as a general is boasted about by the rest of the cast. He demands ‘ocular proof’ when Iago tries to incriminate Desdemona, and asks Iago to ensure that the ‘probation bear no hinge or loop to hang a life on’. His value of life and his moral strength are clear, he refuses to harm an innocent and won’t be swayed by Iago’s stories. However, some critics such as Bradley who names Othello as a ‘noble barbarian’, argue that Othello is being selfish here, when he worries about ‘hang[ing]’, he is fearing his own death rather that Desdemona’s of Cassio’s, for the Jacobean punishment for murder is ‘hang[ing]’. To the aforementioned critics Othello is

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