Analysis Of Othello As A Great Example Of A Tragic Hero
A tragic hero is usually pictured as the protagonist and is a type of character in a tragedy. Within this tragedy that they are a part of, they’re typically placed with heroic traits that allow them to gain the sympathy of the audience. However, they are also provided with flaws that play a big role in leading to their mistakes which add up to the cause of their own downfall. Throughout our lifetime, there are several “heroes” in which we honor. It can be anything from someone rescuing a cat from a tree, firemen, policemen, and the list goes on and on. However, the rarest of them all is the “tragic hero”. Othello is a clear example of one, through his noble traits, noble flaws, and tragic downfall. Although he can be the hero in most situations, once his emotions take over his personality and characteristics, it soon turns into a quick falling out that is full of a roller coaster of emotions and negative decisions.
Othello proves that he is a noble character through his high social ranking and heart of gold that is shown during times when he speaks about Desdemona. Othello continues to maintain a loving and noble nature for humanity, even though he originated from a rough past as he expressed to the Duke, “Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,/Of moving accidents by flood and field,/Of hair-breadth ’scapes i' th' imminent deadly/breach,/Of being taken by the insolent foe/And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence”. Othello had lived through unfortunate disasters, sea and land adventures, catastrophes, and slavery. However, these experiences never gave him a reason for hating those who were different than him, instead, he was quite fond of their lifestyles and personalities.
In addition, he never disrespects Desdemona or anyone of higher ranking, until his downfall, even though he hasn’t always been treated with the respect he deserved due to his ethnicity, color, religion, etc. This is shown during times when remarks concerning race are said behind his back. For example, Iago states “Even, now, now, very now, an old black ram/Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise”. Within this thought, Iago clearly compares Othello to an “old black ram”because of his age and color. Throughout the play, Othello continues to prove that he’s just as worthy of respect and equality as anyone else. He goes on to use his ranking as an example that anything is possible for anyone, although it may be challenging at first. Othello is ultimately seen as a protagonist with a defect in his character, which in this case, is the one thing that will push him over the ledge. What makes Othello a tragic hero is his tragic flaw. Yes, he is jealous and gullible but his biggest flaw is his insecurities. Because of this, Iago was able to easily take advantage of him and convince him that Desdemona was being an unfaithful wife to him. Iago states, “She did deceive her father, marrying you,/And when she seemed to shake and fear your looks,/She loved them most. /And so she did. ” Iago does this to suggest to Othello that if Desdemona could disobey her own father, she’d surely deceive her husband.
Thus, causing a turn of personality for Othello as he agrees with Iago rather than notices the fact that Desdemona eloped with him to get married, despite what others believed, because she was loyal to their love and would continue to be. Also, being the only black character, he’s made an easy target for Iago to manipulate as he begins to believe that Desdemonda would never want to be with him due to the color of his skin and background. This is shown when Othello says, “Haply, for I am black/And have not those soft parts of conversation/That chambers have, or for I am declined”. This begins to show the turning point of Othello’s trust, and the uprising of his insecurity of being the only black individual and coming from a different past than the rest which leads him to believe anything that Iago mentions to him. Fatal flaws usually result in some sort of death either internally, externally, or both. For Othello, it was both. Slightly after his weakness began to rise and take over, he begins to treat his wife poorly and eventually kills her by smothering her to death. This event resulted in the suicide of the tragic hero, as he soon realized that what he had done had been a terrible mistake and leaves him with a broken heart and a shattered state of mind. Othello’s fatal flaw was used used to shine a light on some of the darker characteristics of humanity, as it was a normal emotion that was taking to the extreme due to those individuals who continued to attempt to manipulate him.
Unfortunately, Othello’s story continues to remain closely connected to the modern society in the sense that people today have a harder time holding in their jealous and racists thoughts while also not having the confidence to speak up about their insecurities. Jealousy, for instance, plays a major role in the daily life of every human, as it binds us to point out the unreasonable in situations. Iago refers to jealousy in a metaphorical way when he conveys “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!/It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock/The meat it feeds on. ” He makes the comparison between jealousy and a monster as it serves as the driving force for Iago to manipulate Othello in order to get back at him for promoting Cassio to leautinet rather than Iago. Such as the situation that Othello, Roderigo, Cassio, and Desdemona were in depicts an example of jealousy within a relationship and what it could eventually lead to. It’s a relatable situation to today, due to the fact that jealous individuals within a relationship usually act out of character to “protect” those who they are in lust with, which is ultimately why Roderigo attacks Cassio after Iago had brainwashed him that Cassio and Desdemona were together.
Another factor that plays into today’s society is racism. Racism has affected society since the start of civilization, and continues to do so on a daily basis. It was greatly relevant during the time of the play, and is still relevant today. With the play featuring a Muslim black man as the protagonist, it is geared toward responsing to the racial policies towards the Moors that were taking place during the Elizabethan era. Therefore, Shakespeare used Othello to depict him as a civilized, noble protagonist in order to force his audiences to reconsider the racial status that took place in the 17th century. For audiences today, it’s a lesson to everyone that if individuals just gave the time and effort to really know someone before basing their personality off of their differentialities, the world would be a much better place with much less hatred towards ethnicities, religions, etc. Othello’s insecurity also allowed for him to be easier to manipulate. Everyone is insecure about one of their characteristics at least once during their lifetime. However, the difference is all in how we manage it. Iago states, “The Moor is a free and open nature/That thinks men honest that but seem to do so”. This depicts that anyone can be taken advantage of just for being an open-minded person. Being that he was insecure about his race and background, he made it easier to get manipulated through poisonous words that were used to misguide and deceive him. Othello is a great example of not letting our daily emotions get the best of us, as they may lead us through a dark pathway.
All in all, Othello is used to inspire and remember the political and racial tensions that were taking place during the 17th century, and continue to impact our society today. Othello wasn’t always a tragic hero, he was just a hero first. Sadly, once his tragedy of a flaw came into the spotlight it overtook his life and began to make all of his decisions for him. Every event that took place had a purpose behind it, thus showing literary merit. Othello is a clear description of what a piece of literary tragedy should look like. He was a high ranking individual within his society who was constantly full of joy, and lost it all due to the fatal flaws which were jealousy and insecurity.
Othello proves that even those individuals closest to you may only be taking advantage of you for their benefit over wanting a real friendship. He also teaches society to be conscious of every situation we are put in, and to know our own self worth before allowing others to determine it for us. In addition, Othello teaches those of modern society to be aware of their everyday surroundings, and learn how to adapt during uneasy situations. Through the experiences that he went through during the play, he taught us to not only be aware of everything around us, but also to understand human nature interactions by exaggerating the nitty-gritty social events of it all. Overall, Othello’s downfall caused him to transform into a hero with a tragic ending.