Shakespeare portrays Othello’s character as a complex one. Throughout the whole play Othello experiences different emotions such as love, hate and even jealousy. Othello’s journey is shown through a intense series of ups and downs.
At the beginning of the play Othello was known as a hero of ‘being in the military success’. He was known to his people to be confident, brave and courageous; all qualities that hero’s have. However throughout the play Shakespeare presents the downfall of the hero. In some ways this play could suggest that every hero has a weakness, even the most bravest and heroic of them all. In this case Othello’s weakness is the strong powerful love he has for Desdemona. This could be considered the tragedy of the whole play; Othello is someone in the beginning of the play, but by the end he is nothing. His mind is consumed by strong feelings and emotions of jealousy, anger, love and hate.
Arguably, some people may think Othello was never a hero to begin with, just a person who helped the country. He was not the only one who saved the country, he was just the leader of the group, and he was not in it alone. So Shakespeare only portrayed him being a tragic character, whose journey we follow we witness his downfall in the list of his success.
In Act 1 Scene 2 Shakespeare portrays Othello as a kind and extravagant person; however this is told through other characters. Shakespeare has held back from introducing Othello directly. He is repeated as ‘he’ or ‘the moor’ indicating Shakespeare would like the audience to make their own judgement of Othello. As the audience we immediately think the character of Othello is a good person because through the words of other characters he is described as a hero and automatically we know hero’s are good people and do things only for the good of other people.
In this scene he is referred to being known as a hero because of his military success. Shakespeare shows him to be a confident and “all knowing”. Othello’s first words in the play were “tis better as it is” showing the words are easy and relaxed. He rejects any harm or impulsive actions indicating he is a peace maker and not the person full of hate and jealousy that he becomes. This point emphasises the journey that Othello goes through is mostly a journey of his change of emotion and personality. The tragedy of his character began here, Othello is a good person. This makes the play even more of a tragedy because as the audience, you know that if Othello hadn’t been influenced by Iago he still would have been a good person. It is very tragic that at this point of the play everyone looks up to Othello however we see that by the end everyone looks down at him in disgust or sorrow.
In Act 3 Scene 3 Shakespeare presents Othello at a turning point. “It is seen as a long and complex scene”, (Mason 2010:38) and can be seen as a reflection of Othello’s character. It also reflects how long it takes to convince Iago to convince Othello, that his wife is cheating on him; Iago slyly plants little seeds throughout the whole scene so by the end Othello is convinced by Iago’s menacing words. “My lord you know I love you” which emphasises how sly Iago is, because he would use the word love, a strong emotion, as a sign that he is loyal. However in this scene Iago lies and uses it in the wrong way. Dramatic Irony employed by Shakespeare is effective because it adds the drama and tension of the play making it more interesting. This keeps the audience engaged and interested in what going to happen next. It keeps the audience on their feet creating the feeling that something unexpected is going to happen. This makes the play more exiting