How Does Shakespeare Use Act 1 to Present Othello as a Tragic Character?

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How does Shakespeare use Act 1 to set up Othello as a tragic character? A the start of the play, we are presented with an overall positive character – a highly respected military leader and a loving husband – fitting the description of Aristotle’s definition of the hero of a tragedy perfectly. However, negative feelings of jealously and resentment is shown towards Othello from Iago and Brabantio, his wife’s father. Shakespeare was very successful in setting up this tragic play as, by presenting Othello in this way, he is then able to break him down completely by the end of the play. Othello fits into the classical mould of a Greek tragedy, brought about by Aristotle many years before the play was written. A Greek tragedy is based on conflict and depicts the downfall of high-ranking characters, who make fatal errors of judgement (hamartia) because of their overweening ambition and pride (hubris), and they are swiftly destroyed by the consequences of their actions. Aristotle stated that a tragic hero should have qualities that the ordinary person would also possess, but the tragedy is best when it ends unhappily, making the audience feel pity and fear. Othello is a highly original tragedy in many ways. He is a high-ranking general and is descended from a line of kings, as well as being overambitious when marrying Desdemona, possibly overreaching himself when he tries to combine the two lifestyles. From the very start of the play, Othello is set up for conflict. He doesn’t even appear in the first scene (and he isn’t mentioned by name either); this shows how mysterious his character is at this point. However, we do find out a few things by what is told by Iago, the villain in this play. He seems to have a clear motive for causing harm to Othello. He tells Roderigo that he is bitter because of the way “preferment goes by letter and affection, not by the old

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