Othello: The Moor of Venice is a tragedy that was written by William Shakespeare in the early years of the seventeenth century. Essentially, the play is about a Moor, named Othello, who elopes with the fair and beautiful and white Desdemona, and he leaves Venice for Cyprus, where he is to be in command of the Venetian Army. His wife, and his lieutenant Cassio accompany Othello on this journey. The twist in the play comes at this stage, when the treacherous and traitorous Iago, who is a standard bearer, plants Desdemona's handkerchief on Cassio, and Othello, when he sees this, becomes convinced that his new wife has been unfaithful to him. Being an extremely jealous and possessive man, Othello does not hesitate to kill Desdemona in a fit of temper. It is only after this event occurs that Iago's wife reveals the truth, that it was her husband's traitorous action, wherein he had planted the handkerchief on Cassio, that had led to Othello's slaying of Desdemona. Iago kills his own wife after this revelation, and finally, Othello kills himself out of grief, (Othello: Wikipedia) and achieves a status as one of the greatest 'Tragic Heroes' of all time. The paper is an attempt to describe the unfolding of the character of Othello in the Shakespearean tragedy, Othello, and show how the character develops into a hero, and become transformed, because of his various tragic flaws and his insecurities, and a basic naivete and innocence, into bestiality, which in turn leads him to murder his own wife and then himself.
A 'Tragic Hero', ever since he was initially described by Aristotle in the early years of 250 BC, the medium of tragedy, and the development of a character as a tragic hero has been prominent, and has been the hallmark of some of the greatest works in literature ever since that time. A common characteristic of the tragic hero is that he is a person of high standing, but with a 'tragic flaw', who, when faced with some type of opposition, becomes depressed, and finally, ends up taking his own life at the end of the tragedy. The tragic flaw in his personality causes him to take such a drastic step. Othello is essentially a naive and innocent person, who trusts his companions completely, and this trait is his undoing, as he puts too much trust in Iago. As the play progresses, one can see that Othello is being reshaped by his innate jealousy, and he finally turns into a murderer, but the reader does feel some pity for the character, because, it was only because of the tragic flaw in his character that Othello did what he did, and one can forgive him for his actions. This is where Shakespeare's genius becomes evident, while in the beginning; Othello is seen as a nobleman, who loves his new wife Desdemona with purity and innocence, the character of Iago is introduced, and this person, with villainy, starts to adversely influence Othello, until the point where he is forced, because of his jealousy, to kill his beloved wife, and then finally kill himself. (Othello as a Tragic Hero)
Othello is seen as a generally very even tempered and patient man, and he dose not let the villainous Iago influence his thinking in the beginning, for example, when Iago attempts to persuade Othello to get angry with Roderigo. Even at this point, the reader becomes well aware of the tragic flaw within Othello, wherein he is able to put his full faith and trust in the "Janus faced and dishonest" Iago. He even quotes: " ... A man he is of honesty and trust. To this conveyance I assign my wife." (Othello as a Tragic Hero) Othello is being deceived at this stage, wherein Iago has already started to plot against his master. Shakespeare wastes no time in transforming Othello from a loving husband into a wife murderer, and at the same time keeps the reader aware of the fact that the hero is up against the most treacherous character in literature, and Iago dose whatever he can to heighten the reader's awareness of this tragic flaw that would ultimately lead to the hero's demise, and as the play progresses, the hero is more and more tainted by…