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Othello as a Tragic Hero

A presentation on what makes Othello a tragic hero
by

Kathryn Gambill

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of Othello as a Tragic Hero

Othello as a Tragic Hero
Beginning Characteristics
-In the beginning, Othello is strong and brave. He has a very sound personality, and people easily rely on him.
-This is characterized when Othello is called by the Duke to serve in Cyprus. Although it is his wedding night, Othello is very calm and cool and takes the situation seriously but lightly. He appears to have an even temper, and we learn that he is very respected by those he works with and for.
-Even when he is in danger for marrying Desdemona, he shows is calmness and confidence when he says, "Let him do his spite. My services which I have done the signiory shall out-tongue his complaints." He also says, "My parts, my title, and my perfect soul shall manifest me rightly."
-Even though Iago hates Othello, he admits, "The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not, is of a constant, loving, noble nature, and I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona a most dear husband."
-These examples shows Othello's good nature and how, at the beginning of the play, he is even respected by his enemies.
-This plays into Aristotle's idea that tragic heroes start out very great and powerful.
Changes and Flaws
-One of Othello's biggest flaws is that he is too trusting of Iago. Throughout the play, Othello refers to Iago as "Honest Iago," and blindly follows what he says. Othello takes what Iago says as complete truth and never asks other people for their opinions or views.
-"So please your grace, my ancient. A man (Iago) he is of honesty and trust."
-At the beginning of the play, Othello even trusts Iago to take care of his newly wedded wife and all his money!
-Another one of Othello's flaws is that he is too in love with Desdemona. He lets his love for her consume and take over him, and he becomes jealous very easily when he finds out that he possibly isn't the only man sleeping with his wife.
-"It gives me wonder great as my content to see you here before me. Oh, my soul’s joy! If after every tempest come such calms, may the winds blow till they have wakened death, and let the laboring bark climb hills of seas Olympus-high, and duck again as low as hell’s from heaven! If it were now to die, 'twere now to be most happy, for I fear my soul hath her content so absolute that not another comfort like to this succeeds in unknown fate."
-Yet another one of Othello's flaws is that he is gullible. (Click to quotes)
-Iago realizes how much Othello loves Desdemona, and plans to use this against him. The more he suggests to Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio, the more we can see Othello changing into an angry, frustrated, and unfair leader.
-Aristotle's idea of the tragic hero is shown here because the hero's fall is due to a very serious flaw.
Downfall
-After enough of hearing Iago lie about Desdemona and not checking the "facts" himself, Othello completely changes into an enraged and unreasonable person.
-"This fellow’s of exceeding honesty and knows all quantities, with a learnèd spirit, of human dealings. If I do prove her haggard, though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings, I’d whistle her off and let her down the wind to prey at fortune."
-Even when he thinks to ask Desdemona about the situation, he doesn't believe what she tells him (which is the truth!).
-Iago literally makes Othello so angry that he gets sick and goes into epileptic fits.
-The once calm and level-headed Othello is now irrationally furious and murderous.
-"Oh, that the slave had forty thousand lives! One is too poor, too weak for my revenge. Now do I see ’tis true. Look here, Iago, all my fond love thus do I blow to heaven. 'Tis gone. Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell! Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne to tyrannous hate! Swell, bosom, with thy fraught, for ’tis of aspics' tongues!"
-"By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in ’s hand. O perjured woman, thou dost stone my heart, and mak’st me call what I intend to do a murder, which I thought a sacrifice!"
-After his downfall, Othello is a very angry person.
-Aristotle's idea of a tragic hero is shown here because the hero goes from being very great to very destructive and ill-tempered.
What Did Othello Learn?
Conclusion
-Othello's beginning characteristics, flaws, changes, and ultimate downfall are what make him a tragic hero.
-By the end of the play, Othello's flaws have caused him to suffer the murder of his wife and the realization that he chose to believe Iago rather than the truth, which ultimately could have saved Desdemona's and his own life.
What is a Tragic Hero?
"A great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat." -Dictionary.com
Aristotle's idea of a tragic hero was a protagonist who is socially greater than everyone else, but then has a down fall due to a "tragic flaw", typically caused by the character's one weakness.
Othello is a tragic hero because, in the beginning, he is a very solid and stable leader who is confident and strong, but by the end, he is weak and insecure.
-By the end of the play, Othello learns about the handkerchief and Iago's lies. He realizes that he was wrong to believe everything that Iago said, and regrets the way he has acted.
-Even though he heard the real truth from Desdemona, he didn't believe her and believed the liar instead.
-Unfortunately, by the time he realizes this, Othello has already murdered Desdemona.
-He regrets his actions and ends up committing suicide because he can't live with the fact that he killed his innocent wife.
Othello is Gullible

IAGO
I’m glad to hear you say that. Now I can show you my devotion and my duty with more honesty. So please listen to me. I’m not talking about proof yet. Watch your wife.
Watch how she is with Cassio. Just watch—don’t be either completely suspicious or completely trustful. I wouldn’t want to see you taken advantage of because you’re such an open and trusting guy. Watch out! I know the people of Venice well. They let God see things they wouldn’t show their husbands. They don’t avoid doing things that are wrong, they just try not to get caught


OTHELLO
Do you really think so?

IAGO
She lied to her father to marry you. And when she pretended to be afraid of you, she loved you the most.

OTHELLO
That’s right, she did.

IAGO

Well, there you go. She was so young, but she deceived her father so thoroughly he thought it was witchcraft! But I’m sorry I’ve blurted all this out. I beg your pardon for loving you too much.


OTHELLO
I’m indebted to you forever.
Othello is Angry
-Oh, I’d kill that bastard Cassio forty thousand times if I could! Killing him once is not enough revenge. Now I see it’s true. Oh, Iago, all the love I felt is gone, vanished in the wind. Welcome, hatred and vengeance! Get out of my heart, love! My heart feels like it’s full of poisonous snakes!


IAGO
Calm down---

OTHELLO
I want blood!
“Never, Iago. My thoughts of revenge are flowing through me like a violent river, never turning back to love, only flowing toward full revenge that’ll swallow them up. I swear to God I’ll get revenge.” (This quote shows his flaws and fall because he is so gullible and angry because of Iago and leads to his mistake of killing her.)
“Oh, what a fool I am!” (Admits to being a fool and shows that he is a tragic hero due to his gullible attributes and blinded sight cause of anger.)
Sources
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tragic+hero

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl339/tragedy.html

http://wallpaper-star-epic.blogspot.com/2012_01_20_archive.html

http://mubi.com/films/othello--4

http://theplaystheblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/all-of-them-die-the-noble-ones-and-the-villains-the-level-headed-ones-and-the-madmen-the-empiricists-and-the-absolutists-all-choices-are-bad/

http://elanorlawrence.blogspot.com/2011/05/classic-of-week-othello.html
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