Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is Othello's tragic flaw that causes his downfall?

Othello's tragic flaw is often identified as jealousy, but other possible tragic flaws include insecurity and poor judgment.

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It is often suggested that Othello's fatal flaw is jealousy, but I would argue that this doesn't really strike at the heart of the matter. Yes, Othello is jealous, but before Iago suggests to him that Desdemona might be cuckolding him, this is not something Othello has thought about. He has previously treated Desdemona in a kind and gallant way and has advanced Cassio because he respects and admires him.

The fact that Iago is so easily able to manipulate Othello points us towards his real tragic flaw—Othello is naive in a way that suggests he suffers from insecurity. Iago is able to play upon Othello's insecurities in order to convince him to greater and greater foolish acts.

There is, of course, good reason for Othello to be insecure. The language of the play makes it very clear that there are many in Italy who do not think an "old black ram" such as Othello should be in a position of power in the army and certainly should not be married to Desdemona. Desdemona is asked to defend her...

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unspeakable49 | Student

Othello's tragic flaw is the importance he places in his honour and reputation. Othello falls for Iago's lies easily because he cannot stand the mere thought of his reputation being marred. Whether Desdemona has cheated on him or not, then becomes somewhat secondary, because only the possibility of her cheating is enough for Othello.

Othello believes that his reputation defines his personality. That's why he takes it so seriously because without his honour he's nothing.

This becomes his tragic flaw. A tragic hero is an essentially good man who makes a mistake that the audience can sympathise with. Only a good and noble man would have place so much importance in his reputation. Thus, Othello's honour becomes his weakness.

slhull6 | Student

Envy. The green-eyed monster. Jealousy. Othello believes Iago and become vulnerable to anything negative simply because of his ability to be so very jealous. 

iarora | Student

othellos tragic flaw, like iagos, is his jealousy and unwillingness to sort stuf out- he doesnt even ask desde whats up

arjun | Student
Othello's tragic flaw is that he is light tempered and rash in action.
clarissa4107 | Student

othello is a dumb tragedy play

meredied | Student

That pretty false

Everyone trusts Iago, they call him "honest iago"
Othello went to war with Iago, he probably had to trust him with his life many times.

gutsygibbon | Student

Othello's tragic flaw is his gullible and naive nature. He is senseless and blindly believes Iago who manipulates him for his own benefit.

He is also a victim of circumstances and a poor decision-maker.