Othello essay

Submitted By QueenOfMirkwood
Words: 1703
Pages: 7

Albert Gerard describes the character of Othello as lacking in nobility and intellect of other Shakespearean tragic heroes. In Gerard’s view, Othello is presented as an “erring barbarian and credulous fool”. Paying particular attention to act III scene III, how do you respond to the presentation of Othello as a tragic hero.
Word Count = 1,628

Aristotle - "A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall."

Othello is widely referred to as a ‘tragic hero’ - According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is ‘a character, usually of high birth, who is neither totally good nor totally evil, and whose downfall is brought about by a tragic weakness or error in judgment.’ I agree with the label on Othello as a tragic hero, although I can’t help but think that due to his gullibility, he bought his downfall upon himself, by his trust in other characters, particularly in this instance, ‘Honest’ Iago... a Machiavellian.
Due to Iago’s jealousy over Othello choosing Cassio for a promotion, a chain of events are set into motion which will result in Othello’s downfall. Iago plans to “follow [Othello] to serve [his] turn upon him”.
He starts his plan by informing the character of Brabantio that “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” – Othello has married and/or having sexual relations with Brabantio’s daughter, Desdemona.
This is where we first start to get to know Iago – we see him as a racist and we start to become suspicious to the fact that he is a very jealous and manipulative man.
Iago, In my opinion is the root of Othello’s downfall. This is the first time we experience Iago’s manipulation. Throughout the play we will see that Iago doesn’t lie as such, he simply twists and manipulates the truth, with one or two exceptions. Later, Iago’s bad intentions are directed at Michael Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant. He gets Cassio drunk, and therefore Othello fires him. He then goes on to begin his scheme of causing Othello’s downfall. In my opinion, this is ridiculous – get someone fired and cause someone to kill their wife and himself...all over not getting a job position – and maybe indicates that Iago may have some mental instability. The extent of his jealousy is not normal to today’s audiences.
Iago continues to tell Cassio to speak to Desdemona, as the “general’s wife is now the general” – He means Desdemona is the one more dominant force in the relationship, and she knows how to get around Othello. – and this is where Iago’s plot really begins; Iago manipulates Othello into thinking his wife is having an affair with Cassio, hence the reason they’ve been talking.

Act 3 scene 3 is often referred to as the ‘temptation’ or ‘seduction’ scene. This is the scene where Iago, much the Machiavellian villain, starts to influence Othello towards thoughts of his wife having an affair. The scene starts with Cassio, Desdemona and Emilia. Emilia is a little receded here, as it’s mostly Cassio and Desdemona talking. Iago makes sure that Othello will see the two talking and then continues with his plot. This is where I would like to point out that this play is not taking place at anyone one time, it is taking place over a few days, not a long period of time otherwise Iago’s plan would not work.
Iago knows Othello’s flaws – his jealousy and gullibility. The critic Levis also goes as far as to say “Othello, in his magnanimous way, is egotistical” – All of this is in Iago’s favour. Levis also says “Iago ... points out that Othello doesn’t really know Desdemona” – This is something else Iago can use against Othello. Iago is clever enough to use Othello’s hamartia to his advantage throughout this scene. For example, Act 3 scene 3, page 99, line 37-40.
Othello: Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?
Iago: Cassio, my Lord? No, sure I cannot think it That he would steal away so guilty-like Seeing you coming
This proves that Iago is further encouraging Othello to feel jealous, as ‘So guilty-like’ makes it seem as if Othello’s