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

Expert Answers info

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write1,918 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

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...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 348 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


unspeakable49 | Student

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.

cbyrne9 | Student

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.    

taskeenjanjua | Student

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. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
sakthi | Student

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.

 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
gaky | Student

ok the above r cool

check Approved by eNotes Editorial