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Character Review: Othello

Tragedy is a unique and very powerful tool in classic literature. As a common standard in tragedy, the protagonist, or "tragic hero" is of high standing who is faced with some opposing force whether internal or external. This writing style is of great popularity mostly for the reason of having common ground with the real life, lives of most people who can associate with the characters of the piece of literature work. The definition of "tragic" could be explained as something very unfortunate, event or person that are not likely to win love of the surrounding world.

Thus Othello in the play represents an aura of misery and unhappiness, the feeling of which is communicated in every line of the text. Hero is an example of nobility and of personal outstanding abilities. Putting those two words together we will end up with a most precise feature of Othello’s character, a heroic young man with a tragic flaw who is about to get involved in a regrettable matter. The fact that Desdemona will be murdered by her own husband is highly unbelievable nevertheless it is inevitable in the light of his tragic nature.

Definitely Othello is a hero in this play, he is a General and by definition is respected by many people. Othello is a noble and loving husband, his young and beautiful wife Desdemona is his pride and hobby. The combination of blind love to his wife without rational thinking is a main problem that will later lead our hero to tragic ending. Othello is almost too good to be true, he is very honest and at the beginning of the play, the evil character of Iago is introduced and uncovers the hero’s tragic flaw. It’s clear that our protagonist has to be opposed to a bad character so that the reader catches that ultimate flaw of naiveté that Othello possesses. Although Othello is usually a very even-tempered man as he is in military person, his inner self control is getting more and more invaded by Iago’s evil intentions. He is handling his "...my ancient; a man he is of honesty and trust. To this conveyance I assign my wife" that is to say he is intrusting his most precious person to someone who is already plotting against his master. The reader meets with "hero" who is too much heroic and not very practical in real life. It seems that Othello lives in his own imaginary world where everyone around him is as honest and noble as he is. At the same time our protagonist is a negative character as he is weak, weak to take responsibility for his wife and his own happiness thus he is giving this task away. This is the moment when our righteous hero starts to slide to the other side, the darker side when he cannot tell right from wrong, love from hatred and friend from a villain.

Othello’s jealousy of his wife being with another man doesn’t allow him to think straight, with Iago always adding more to the lies he already have told, Othello is losing his temper and turns into a reckless wife-murderer. Instable inner world and lack of confidence results in a complete downfall of our character and destroys Othello as a good natured person. He becomes totally dependable on the lies that he constantly hears from Iago and it seems that he enjoys his sufferings because he continues listening to unproved information rather than listening to his wife. In his final speech he recognizes his behavior as absurd and unfair to Desdemona and proclaims "of one that loved her not wisely, but too well" proving the fact that Othello was romanticizing everything instead of trusting himself. It is hard to sympathize with Othello in what happens to him because he is a representation of the entire humanity which Shakespeare intended to show in his character. By becoming weak and by succumbing into his own doubts and lies around him, he shows us how imperfect humans are and how easy it is to give up even the greatest and purest love of the entire life. This very feature brings about the feeling of Othello’s tragic nature and evil side of our world in which we have to protect our love, with a rather practical and clever approach as opposed to giving away our loved ones into the hands of "dear" friends.

The realization of his own naiveté and surprising trust, that’s unusual for a military man, came to Othello too late when his wife was murdered and he was about to commit suicide. This saddening aspect of the play that leaves no choice and space for imagination is a corner stone in the creation of a tragedy. It leaves the reader in the company of numerous dead bodies and frustration caused by the incapable to fight hero. Shakespeare’s genius if fully outspoken in the lines that "noble" Iago tells his master "I should be wise, for honesty's a fool. And loses that it works for." He understands the ultimate truth of life- believing in rational thinking and pragmatic planning, while Othello is suffering from the unknown caused by his inner sense of honesty and multiple lies in the outside world. This struggle depicted in Othello’s character bares eternal struggles of humanity that are never to be won according to the author. Those moral battles are always won by the immoral principles as the tragedy states, while the world is trying to figure out what to believe and what makes life easier. Balancing out nobility with realistic approach for solving problems would make Othello a perfect hero not a tragic one, but Shakespeare reminds us that it rarely happens in life and most of us end up being such Othellos who is his own enemy.

Submitted by:

Jeff Stats

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