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Othello: A Tragic Hero Through the Prism of Aristotle’s Definition Essay

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Updated: Jan 23rd, 2022

As the name suggests, the tragedy of Othello has been a point of discussion by most literature scholars. The point of contention is on whether the piece of Shakespeare’s artistic work meets the basic requirements to be classified as a tragedy. In my essay, I present the argument as to why Othello is a perfect example of a tragedy.

Tragedies are characterized by the presence of a tragic hero. The hero bears a serious a flaw that contributes immensely to his or her downfall. In most cases, such kind of a flaw referred to as a tragic flaw. The flaw is inherent to the person and can be used to give information about his or her background. According to Aristotle, a tragic flaw characterizes a tragic hero and the flaw is manifested throughout the play. In the tragedy of Othello, Othello portrays a perfect example of a tragic hero basing on Aristotle’s definition. This character exhibits two major flaws in his character, which include gullibility and jealousy. His eventual downfall bears a direct linkage to the previously mentioned flaws.

Basing on Aristotle’s definition of tragedy, there are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration before classifying a play as a tragedy or not. According to him, the prerequisite of a tragedy revolves around the plot of the play. Events are best portrayed as tragic if they happen unexpectedly, and occasioned with the occurrence of one another. Furthermore, Aristotle asserts that for the essence of tragedy to be effective, the hero must be faced with an option that is unavoidable. The presence of a tragic hero is an indispensable factor in so far as classifying a play as tragedy or not is concerned. The main character must bear the qualities of nobility, or rather high stature than other members in that particular setting. Despite this, the main character must portray elements of flaws in his or her character, which will eventually lead to his or her downfall. It is worth noting that the main character ends up destroying himself in most tragedies. This cannot be blamed on others, bad luck, or depravity.

In reference to Aristotelian criterion discussed above, Othello meets the definition to be regarded as a tragedy. Othello, who is the main character, is a perfect example of a tragic hero. Having been a soldier in most part of his life, he commanded the respect and honor from the society. This is the reason as to why he was referred to as governor-general. He is confident even as he defends his marriage to Desdemona, a daughter of Venetian senator. He possesses a soldiery outlook and commands much respect from people of Venice.

As already stated earlier, Othello is a tragic hero who exhibits two serious tragic flaws. These are gullibility and jealousy. He trusts Iago so much simply because he is a military man who they have served together for long time. His gullibility makes him to fail to trust Desdemona who spoke the truth throughout the play. Later on, Othello finds himself torn between his character and the love of his heart. A tragic catastrophe happens when he destroys Desdemona at the expense of misleading information he receives from Iado. This action brings him to his ultimate tragic fall. Therefore, in conclusion, Othello stands out to be a tragedy.

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"Othello: A Tragic Hero Through the Prism of Aristotle’s Definition." IvyPanda, 23 Jan. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/othello-a-tragic-hero-through-the-prism-of-aristotles-definition/.

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IvyPanda. "Othello: A Tragic Hero Through the Prism of Aristotle’s Definition." January 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/othello-a-tragic-hero-through-the-prism-of-aristotles-definition/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Othello: A Tragic Hero Through the Prism of Aristotle’s Definition." January 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/othello-a-tragic-hero-through-the-prism-of-aristotles-definition/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Othello: A Tragic Hero Through the Prism of Aristotle’s Definition'. 23 January.

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