William Shakespeare 's Othello As A Tragic Hero Essay

936 Words Oct 26th, 2016 4 Pages
In 1604, English playwright and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616) debuted Othello, a tragedy following the marriage between a Moorish black general, Othello, and an aristocratic Venetian woman, Desdemona. Their matrimony is threatened by Othello’s trusted ensign, Iago, who harbors a resentment towards the Moor and plants suspicion in Othello’s mind that his wife is unfaithful. Like other playwrights of his time, Shakespeare structured his work after ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle’s (384-322 B.C.) Poetics, the first book of Western literary criticism. In it, Aristotle discusses the characteristics of a tragic hero and the four elements of a tragedy: hamartia, peripety, anagnorisis, and catastrophe. In this paper, I analyze how Shakespeare implemented the Aristotelian standards of tragedy in Othello. Elaborating on the traits of a tragic hero, Aristotle writes that the necessary characteristics are: be a sympathetic character, realistic enough to be relevant to audiences, singular in purpose, and his behavior must fit his station in life. To sympathize with Othello, it is imperative that he is noble. Even Iago, who despises him, acknowledges his virtuousness, “The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not, is of a constant, loving, noble nature” (Act II, Sc.i, Line 310-311). A pragmatic character, Othello has amassed a high reputation as a general in the Venetian army although he is dark-skinned and a cultural outcast. Demonstrating his focused mind, when he…

Related Documents