Othello: A Tragic Hero and an Aristotelian Tragedy
I. Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare is one of his most acclaimed tragedies. “Othello’s story is a tragedy, and not just a very sad story, because it is a story of the destruction of a noble, deeply admirable man brought about through his own weaknesses, systematically exploited by a malicious enemy” (Porter, 2005, pg. 27). However, it has long been debated whether Othello satisfies the requirements of an Aristotelian tragedy.
A. However, it has long been debated whether Othello satisfies the requirements of an Aristotelian tragedy. Yet, through extensive research, it is correct to classify Othello as a tragic hero based on Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. Due to Othello’s rank as a general in the Venetian army and his union with Desdemona, he is of noble caliber; Othello exhibits naïve and jealous characteristics that are influenced by Iago’s nefarious actions that create his tragic flaw, conclusively leading him to his own demise.
II. The first characteristic of an Aristotelian tragedy is that “[…] the protagonist, the hero or chief character of a tragedy is a person of “high estate,” apparently a king or queen or other member of a royal family” (Kennedy & Gioia, 2013, pg. 945).
A. His background as a General in that army.
B. His marriage to Desdemona.
III. While Othello displays the role of noble caliber, he also possesses the second characteristic of a tragedy, which is having a tragic flaw.
A. Iago manipulates Othello into believing that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio his Lieutenant.
B. Othello becomes jealous and vengeful.
IV. Lastly, Othello fits the final requirement where, “In Greek tragedy, the hero is a character amply capable of making choices – capable, too, of accepting the consequences” (Kennedy & Gioia, 2013, pg. 946).
A. Chooses to kill Desdemona.
B. Learns of the truth after he kills her.
C. He commits suicide.