What was the main cause for Othello's fall? What exactly happened? 

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story is as old as the world. A husband catches his wife in bed with another man and he kills one of them or both. In some cases he gets off without punishment because of the so-called "unwritten law." In Othello's case he thinks he has already disposed of Cassio, so it is just a question of killing Desdemona. When she pleads with him to ask Cassio about the handkerchief, he tells her Cassio is dead.

Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.

Othello fully believes that Desdemona has been having an affair with Cassio. He feels he knows this just as well as if he had caught them in bed together. Since he "knows" they are both deceiving him, he feels entitled to his violent revenge. It would have been better if he had caught them together in bed (which is the usual scenario in these old, old stories), but he couldn't do that if Cassio was already dead. Othello is gullible and has a violent temper. It is natural that he should react to what he believes is an outrageous deception by doing what he did.

Shakespeare must have felt that his story idea wouldn't work unless he added something to make the plot look new. This may explain why the hero is black. This makes it seem somehow exotic--a black man is married to a white woman and then murders her! The exotic aspect appealed to Giuseppi Verdi who turned the tale into an opera in 1887. Verdi must have liked the visual and musical possibilities. And no doubt the Italian composer was captivated by the possible duo between Desdemona and Othello while he is threatening to murder her and she is pleading for her life. Othello would be wearing African costumes. The contrast between the basso profundo voice of the male and the coloratura soprano of the female would be extremely effective. What everybody remembers about the play Othello is that the hero was big, powerful, virile, and black.

Imagine the story retold with the hero being white! It would seem like old news. The author would have to invent something else to make it seem original.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Othello's fall is the result of the following:

1.  Male pride: placing too much emphasis on male status, rank, age, and place within society.  In this way, he trusts men's opinion of him above his wife's and his own.

2.  Misogyny against women: he follows Iago's lead in his belief that women are inferior, that they belong in the home, that they should be seen and not heard, that they are status symbols for males only

3.  Lack of communication: once on the island of Cyprus, and as his passions consume him, Othello loses his tongue.  He becomes a seizure-induced mute.

4.  Inferiority complex and self-loathing: Othello buys into the European views that Africans, Muslims, and slaves are heathens and beasts.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy

5.  Inability to be a domestic: Othello is a general, a man of war, good at fighting with his hands.  He's not so good in peacetime, at home, talking.

6.  Denial of the enemy.  He lets his defenses down after he thinks the Turk is defeated.  He thinks that Brabantio is his real enemy in Act I.  He misreads Iago completely, placing too much faith in his opinions and status.

jamphilips | Student

The main cause for Othello's downfall is his naivety. He believed everything Iago told him without any solid evidence--only hearsay. He trusted in Iago so much that he was referred to as "honest" and "noble. If Othello was not so naive, he would not been so hasty to place his trust in Iago. 

questionit | Student

Othello's downfall comes from that fact that he is a tragic hero. He goes through the four stages of Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero.

1. In act 1 scene 3 : Othello is great

2. Act 2 scene 3: Othello is good

3. Act 3 scene 3: othello is flawed (has a flatal flaw that will bring about his downfall, his fatal flaw is his pride and how he doesn't beieve in himself)

4. Act 5 scene 2: his downfall (his death)

course othello's race comes in to his flaw, othello in his psyche never beeived that he was great to begin with. the action of Othello's downfall was killed Desdemona, but Othello has an emotional downfall in Act 3 scene 3 when he becomes ill and has a fit.

nusratfarah | Student

I think that the primary causes for Othello's downfall are:

  • Jealousy
  • Lack of visionary power
  • Inability to judge or evaluate properly
  • Pride
baby-jessica-rawr | Student
What was the main cause for Othello's fall?

was exactly happened?

why you no speak england probably?

laab baby-jessica-rawr