Othello: The Tragic Hero

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Since its introduction over two millennia ago, the medium of tragedy has become a standard concept in innumerable works created to engage an audience. No matter what the form or style, all tragic works hold a common attribute- the notion that tragedy always requires the death of the protagonist. In his famous work, Poetics, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that there are certain distinct qualities that define a tragic hero: the tragic hero must be a character of noble statue, the tragic hero must be great- but not perfect, the hero’s collapse must be triggered by an error on the character’s behalf, the hero must suffer more than he deserves, and the downfall must not be purely detrimental- the hero must experience a discovery and an increase in knowledge and awareness. By referencing Othello’s character to Aristotle’s criteria, we can comprehensively classify Othello, the protagonist in the Shakespearean tragedy Othello, the Moor of Venice, as a tragic hero. Othello, who holds the position of Governor-General of Cyprus, is a character of noble statue. He holds a high degree of military authority in the state of Venice; even his title proclaims a status of dignity, responsibility, and power. Most importantly, however, the Governor-General is someone who the people of Venice revere and hold in high esteem, especially his fellow Venetian nobles. For example, when Othello enters the room where the Duke and Senators are discussing the Turkish invasion, one of the senators exclaims, “Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor.” (1.3.47). Additionally, the Duke confirms his confidence in Othello’s military prowess by asking, “Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you against the general enemy Ottoman.” Othello is clearly aware of his authority, and even refers to himself as one of the “great ones.” (3.3.274). His personality radiates a noble aura that, along with

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