Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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

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In Othello, the namesake of the play is a powerful and celebrated general in the Venitian army. Othello holds himself in high regard and suffers from a tragic flaw, or hamartia—the thing that brings his downfall is something from his own personality. In the play, Othello’s tragic flaw is his sense of self-importance, what the ancient Greeks would have called hubris, translated to mean excessive pride.

Othello holds himself with high regard. He sees his accomplishments and feels pride in what he has done. He came from humble origins and is a foreigner among the Venetians, yet he is considered brave and has earned his noble position through hard work and valor. It makes sense that Othello values his reputation above almost anything else because as black man in Italy, he has faced constant derision from others his entire life.

His desire to keep his reputation intact becomes all-consuming in the play and eventually leads to his murder of Desdemona,

To try me with affliction, had they rained

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