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In Othello, why is Othello considered a "tragic hero"?

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kammyd93 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 11, 2008 at 3:37 AM via web

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In Othello, why is Othello considered a "tragic hero"?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 11, 2008 at 4:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Othello fits all of the criteria of a tragic hero that Aristotle outlined in his work, "Poetics" According to Aristotle:

1. The tragic hero has a noble stature and a high position in his culture.

Othello is a general and commander of the Venician armed forces. Later he his governor of Cyprus.

2. The tragic hero, is great, but not perfect. The audience relates to him as a human being.

The lack of self esteem because he is a Moor is a problem for Othello.

3. The hero's downfall is the result of a "fatal flaw" in his character. It is the result of free will, not of an accident or mere fate.

His lack of self esteem allows him to be manipulated by Iago into thinking his wife is having an affair.

4. The hero's misfortune is not wholly deserved. The punishment exceeds the "crime."

He kills his wife and then himself.

5. The hero's fall is not pure loss. The is an increase in awareness, a gain in self-knowledge, or some sort of discovery on the part of the tragic hero.

Before he dies he says, "one that lov'd not wisely but too well". Othello realizes that he was manipulated but it is too late.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 11, 2008 at 3:51 AM (Answer #2)

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Othello is the husband of Desdemona whom he murders because he has been misled by the villainous Iago.  Othello comes to see love through Iago's eyes and not through Desdemona's--these two characters represent internalized features of Othello's character.  He rejects his loving and generous self (Desdemona)--that aspect of humanity which makes society possible--in favor of the dark passions of his self-centered ego (Iago). 

In the end, the forces of love and trust regain their strength as Othello finally recognizes the goodness of Desdemona.  Iago is finally condemned as the villain he is, but in the meantime the action of the play has demonstrated the power of evil.

Othello is a "tragic hero" due to his self-centered nature and his gullibility--he allows himself to be manipulated by Iago instead of trusting his heart.  He does redeem himself, but it is too little, too late. 

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cbyrne9 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 14, 2013 at 10:45 PM (Answer #7)

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I personally don't think Othello is a tragic hero. The play Othello fits the recipe of succesfull tradegy by aristole but that does not mean he is any hero. As defined by wikipedia a hero is refers to "characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence."

Othello has bad sense of judgement and trust. He puts all his trust in the most villanous man Iago. I don't even understand if Othello was such a great general he should have been more smarter to recognise a snake living around him.

Driven by jealousy he kills the presumably love of his life (which honestly was lame, they had nothing in common). And if thats not enough he commits sucide. Sucide is act of ultimate cowardice. How could one be deemed HERO if they are coward enough to sucide. If Othello had any quality of hero he should have faced the justice and lived all his life in remorse. By simply killing himself Othello got an easy way out when his marragie and judgement failed. 

The question is refering to Othello as a traditional tragic hero, according to the criteria set by Aristotle, not the definition of a hero. Othello is a very good example of a tragic hero because he is a well loved and generally good character that suffers from a fatal or "tragic" flaw that ultimately, with the help from the evil in the world of the play, leads to the hero's demise.    

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unspeakable49 | TA , Grade 12 | Honors

Posted October 3, 2014 at 10:51 AM (Answer #8)

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A tragic hero must be one who is an essentially good man and makes some error in judgement that causes his downfall. Othello is shown to be the honourable and noble Moor who has overcome great adversity, and yet by the climax of the play, he has sunk into a murderous fit and strangles Desdemona.

Othello faces a conflict between duty and passion. His self-definition at the beginning of the play (Act 1, Sc 3) is as a military man. He prides in his development from a near savage to now a commanding general. We are also shown that Othello is calm and collected, as well as just and rational in the face of accusations or panic. For example, when Brabantio begins accusing him of having used witchcraft to seduce Desdemona at the beginning of the play, or the composure Othello exhibits when he comes out of his room to find Cassio and Roderigo fighting on his wedding night.

On the other hand, there is Desdemona who Othello loves. He is insecure in the sphere of love, which explains why he succumbs to jealousy so easily at Iago's provocation. His passions cannot be controlled by his rational side, and the more he tries to control them, the worse the conflict becomes. His frustration becomes clearer and clearer to the audience.

This conflict then causes Othello's downfall. He allows his passions (jealousy, hatred, bitterness) to cloud his judgement, and instead of confronting Desdemona or trusting his faith in her, he makes the mistake of trusting Iago. This is his tragic flaw.

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taskeenjanjua | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:20 AM (Answer #4)

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I personally don't think Othello is a tragic hero. The play Othello fits the recipe of succesfull tradegy by aristole but that does not mean he is any hero. As defined by wikipedia a hero is refers to "characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence."

Othello has bad sense of judgement and trust. He puts all his trust in the most villanous man Iago. I don't even understand if Othello was such a great general he should have been more smarter to recognise a snake living around him.

Driven by jealousy he kills the presumably love of his life (which honestly was lame, they had nothing in common). And if thats not enough he commits sucide. Sucide is act of ultimate cowardice. How could one be deemed HERO if they are coward enough to sucide. If Othello had any quality of hero he should have faced the justice and lived all his life in remorse. By simply killing himself Othello got an easy way out when his marragie and judgement failed. 

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sakthi | College Teacher | Honors

Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:31 PM (Answer #5)

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Othello kills his wife, Desdemona, without giving her a chance to explain her guiltless position. This is another tragic flaw in his character. Desdemona’s conscience was so clear that she never expected Othello to be so Emilia, the maid, reveals her role in the handkerchief episode. It is too late when he realizes his folly. So he stabs himself and commits suicide.

 

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gaky | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:07 PM (Answer #6)

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ok the above r cool

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