Aristotle's Tragedy And Shakespeare's Othello Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Literature Type: Essay Paper: #78682472 Related Topics: Othello, Aristotle, Art Of Fiction, Macbeth
Excerpt from Essay :

Shakespeare's Othello

A lot of genres throughout history have been tested over time among which 'tragedy' has been the most favorite one. Tragedy reveals a debacle tale of a good or valuable person through misinterpretation and fatal mistakes along with the production of misfortune and awareness on the protagonist's part and arousal of fear and sympathy on the audience's part. Aristotle, an ancient Greek thinker, is considered to have been the key ruling forces of tragedy. 'Poetics,' a masterpiece literature is considered to be the key authority that defines a true misfortune (Aristotle, 1968, pgs 33-35).

A character filled with tragedy must lift the story plot in every tragedy and that hero has to accomplish particular rules to be called a tragic hero. Aristotle presents some rules of a tragic hero which state that the character should not be displayed fleeting through an excellent fortune to a bad one; while the antagonist should not be displayed going through a bad fortune to a good one; neither again must an extremely devilish person be displayed falling to misfortune from a good one (Aristotle, 1968, pgs 33-35).

The writers here are left between an individual stuck between two extremes; a person who is not differentiated for virtue or superiority, and neither gets involved in grief due to vice and baseness, but due to a mistake; man of enormous prosperity and reputation. There are, however, a lot of conflicting opinions about Aristotle's definition. The most important question being one is whether the guidelines presented by him are to be followed by every tragedy so as to succeed or not (Aristotle, 1968, pgs 33-35).

Othello who was presented as a tragic hero in Shakespeare's Othello follows all the guidelines of a tragic hero as presented by Aristotle. He has been a man of two extremes having imperfections and committing a deadly mistake, as well as is also a man of prosperity and reputation. These elements donate that Othello successfully arouses misfortune as well as fear from the readers and thus exemplifies the classification of Aristotle of a tragic hero.

Othello and Aristotle

Othello can straightforwardly be classified as a tragic her using the criteria provided by Aristotle. It had been customary for the European cities at that time to give place to foreigners with established military competence and serving their army as the head. Othello was noble born and retained the top-most rank in his country's military, as Governor General which alone displays strength, self-belief and nobility. His rank and status defined a man with tremendous esteem among the general public as well (Altman, 2010).

Othello's very first scene within the novel display's him entering the area while the Duke along with the Congressmen are going over some issues on the table. The subsequent behavior and words spoken in his esteem by one senator clearly display the high carried by Othello (Altman, 2010).

A positive trait of Othello has been his self-confidence; displayed clearly in the defense of his marriage as well as his wife, Desdemona. He affiliates himself towards the world's "great ones" in his defense. Othello displayed high self-confidence even when the Senator outrageously accuses him of black magic. His personal charisma together with his tall and dark stature of African Moor helps him in grabbing allegiance and respect from the senators as well as the city's general populace (Altman, 2010).

The start of the novel brings forth the respect that the people have for Othello when the Governor of the city is waiting for Othello's ship to arrive soon after a sea storm and articulates that he has assisted Othello as well as that he commands like a complete and brave soldier (Altman, 2010).

Throughout the story, Othello is indicated as the army's head, which indicates an army's or the soldiers' commander and has been held in admiration by his fellow fighters as well as the general populace. He has also been recognized for his military skills and tactics and has been proven as a men's leader (Stoll, 1943).

Since he adolescent years, Othello had been serving within a military which demonstrated his soldierly aptitude. They play portrays some of the constructive qualities of Othello which include critical decision-making, self-control, strong religious beliefs, courage and dignity (Stoll, 1943).

However, as the story leads on, the negative attributes of Othello start to appear very interestingly by Shakespeare which led towards his downfall. Even his self-confidence of the individuals as well as Governor General's...


His negative qualities include the insecurities which take the face of suspicion for Desdemona and his nature of trusting in everyone (Porter, 2005).

Othello's imperfections start displaying themselves once he decides to opt for Cassio over Iago as his standing standby. Othello went with this decision because Iago had not established himself as an organizer but just as a fighter while Cassio had proven himself in the art of warfare as well (Porter, 2005).

However, Othello acquits Cassio after the rivalry between Roderigo and Cassio during which Montago is injured while trying his best to put an end to it. These results to be the revenge of Iago who had plotted to ruin Othello as well as the people he was connected with. Iago is filled with anger and revenge to damage Othello (Altman, 1987).

Despite the fight, Cassio again has been selected in good graces as the City's Governor due to which Iago, who was once a confidant and friend of Othello, forms more resentment for him. He persuades Roderigo, who is in love with Othello's wife, by paying him enough money to make Desdemona fall in love with him as well so as to knock over Othello (Altman, 1987).

The positive traits of Othello, which also lead him to be a confident, strong and noble hero, eventually result in his downfall. The attraction event in the third act of the story turns out to be a point of turning in the tragedy of romance. The scene is carried out on the seaside when Othello's ship is being awaited for. Desdemona and Cassio are carrying out a discussion and Iago discovers that a relationship of strong nature exists between them which become a part of his vengeance for Othello and he decides to portray Othello's wife as unfaithful (Altman, 1987).

His plan further evolves when Othello's wife pleads him to return Cassio as his deputy in his army. Iago takes full advantage of this and plants a seed in Othello's head about the affair of Desdemona and Cassio. On the demand of proof by Othello, Iago somehow averts this situation but later returns and carries on to plot against Othello (Altman, 1987).

As Aristotle defined the attributes of a hero, Othello completely fulfills them as he was held in reverence and was a noble man. The personality of Othello in the novel starts by his constructive characteristics which a man must have so as to lead a happy and long life. These traits include self-confidence, critical decision-making, self-control, strong religious beliefs, innocence, trusting personality and sincere love (Altman, 2010).

These constructive characteristics resulted in the downfall due to the negative traits of other individuals which included an appetite for vengeance, hatred, selfishness, fraud and deceit. Othello trusted Iago who was his trusted friend which portrayed the imperfections of Othello regarding his wrong judgments, lack of self-assurance and losing self-control (Altman, 2010).

This finally led to the execution of Desdemona, whom he loved till the end; this resulted in his death as well. These circumstances in the story were depicted in an intense, passionate, emotional, deep and short story and his ability to establish emotional and deep characters still continues to be exceptional at present times (Smith, 2008). As Altman (2010) writes, "By reducing argument to persuasion, and persuasion to artful confabulation, Othello discloses a tragedy at the heart of humanistic rhetorical culture: its implicit denial of our human tendency to admit as credible whatever idea seems most striking and gripping to the fallible soul, often at its weakest moment (pg 105)."

Summary and Conclusion

The story of Othello has been introduced in late 1700s when the battle between Turkey and Venice were going on. Like Oedipus, Othello was also ranked as a noble in the society which is disclosed with the very first mention of Othello. Othello here is talking ot Iago and telling him about his family which is as recognized and rich as the family of Desdemona (Dominguez-Rue and Mrotzekb, 2012).

Othello in contrast to Oedipus displays fewer imperfections which are brought to light by Iago's desire of vengeance. Iago being a close friend of Othello is a clever character who plans deceptive ploys to ruin the life of Othello by ruining his marriage with Desdemona (Dominguez-Rue and Mrotzekb, 2012).

He is a two-faced character with a display of loyalty and love in front of Othello while storing hatred for him…

Sources Used in Documents:


Altman, J.B. (1987). "Preposterous Conclusions": Eros, Enargeia, and the Composition of Othello. Representations Journal. No. 18, pp. 129-157

Altman, J.B. (2010). The Improbability of "Othello": Rhetorical Anthropology and Shakespearean Selfhood. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Aristotle. (1968). Aristotle on the Art of Fiction: An English Translation of Aristotle's Poetics. CUP Archive Publications, pgs 33-35.

Dominguez-Rue, E and Mrotzekb, M. (2012). Shakespearean tragedies dynamics: identifying a generic structure in Shakespeare's four major tragedies. International Journal of General Systems. Vol. 41, No. 7, 667 -- 681.

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