A tragic hero must evoke in the audience a sense of pity and fear. How does this relate to Othello?

Expert Answers
litgeek2015 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character of Othello is a classic hero of tragedy, or tragic hero. He has both positive and negative qualities about him that make the audience both sympathize with and fear him at different points. 

We sympathize with him when we see him being so easily manipulated by Iago. It is obvious to the audience that Othello is gullible and he trusts Iago far too much. This trust leads him to believe everything Iago says and does over what Desdemona says, and this is sad for both Othello and Desdemona. Iago's manipulation makes us feel bad for Othello...to a point.

Othello believes Iago so much, and his wife so little, that he finally rails against Desdemona and kills her. In this act, and his anger leading up to the murder, the audience fears him. They fear what he will do and most importantly know that whatever he is about to do is based on misunderstandings, lies, and an anger he cannot control. His inability to see the truth is also frightening because he cannot be reasoned with. 

Ultimately, he is a tragic hero because he has traits within him that he does not control and those traits (his trusting nature, jealousy, insecurity, and anger) all cause his downfall.