Othello: to Be, or Not to Be a Tragedy

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Othello: To Be, Or Not To Be A Tragedy Aristotle, a 4th century BC philosopher was known for many ideas, thoughts and theories such as his definition of a tragedy. Aristotle defines a tragedy as “an imitation of high importance, complete and of some aplitude; in language enhanced by distinct and varying beauties; acted not narrated; by means of pity and fear effecting its purgation of these emotions” (qtd. in Kennedy and Gioia 856). It has been said that Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy and fits this description. Othello is the story of a Moorish general in Venice, who elops with Desdemona, a nobleman’s daughter. Iago, a jealous villain who is out to get Othello, uses others as pawns and tricks Othello into thinking that Desdemons has not been faithful. After killing Desdemona, Othello then realizes that he has been tricked and kills himself. This play is filled with twisted schemes and plots fueled by jealousy, and murder and could certainly be classified under modern tragedy, but does it fit Aristotle’s definition? Per the definition of a tragedy that Aristotle has given, the play Othello fits most of the criteria and can be classified as such, as well as label the character of Othello as a tragic hero. Aristotle provides six characteristics that he thought poetry should possess in order to be called a tragedy. These six characteristics are that it needs to imitate real life, be serious, of an appropriate length, use rhythm, harmony and melody throughout, is acted rather than narrated, and affects the audience with emotions of pity and fear and then lets the audience purge themselves of them. The first characteristic is that the tragedies are to be mimetic. Mimesis is the act of imitation. Through this act of imitation, people will be able to learn since learning comes from imitation. As children we learn to walk and talk through imitating others. This comes
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