Is It Power of Words Which Destroy Othello or His Own Hubris?

Topics: Othello, Tragic hero, William Shakespeare Pages: 5 (1702 words) Published: December 18, 2012
Is it power of words, which destroy Othello or his own hubris?

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s finest plays, as it concentrates on a courageous’ general’s demise, physically and mentally. It could be argued that Othello bought his destruction on himself, by allowing himself to be poisoned by “Honest” Iago’s fluent rhymes of lies. However I will argue that it is infact his hubris, his overwhelming pride which infact causes his inevitable demise.

Harmatia is a term which was developed by Aristotle and is essentially the main principle when making a tragedy, it is usually translated as “Tragic flaw” it is the idea that the hero’s downfall is partially his fault, in this case Othello’s, it comes from free choice. And not of accident nor villainy (Iago’s power of words) it involves hubris (a characters fatal flaw), arguably Othello’s hubris is his arrogant pride.

In Othello we have both the general’s character flaw was that his pride didn’t allow him to be infulenced by noble-men in which Iago sent in order to persuade Othello to make Iago his lieutenant “three great ones of the city, in personal suit to make me his lieutenant, Off-capp’d to him” this then led to Iago feeling betrayed and wanting revenge for being disrespected and for his pride (his reputation in the army) being damaged.

The Aristotle belief that the tragedy was caused by the characters lack of judgement, is seen when Shakespeare allows Othello to listen and permit himself to be manipulated like the other characters in this play such as Brabantino, Roderigo and Emilia to Iago’s infectious words, which the audience already know will turn Othello against his beloved Desdemonda, this is shown when Othello says “What dost’ thou think?”

However if Othello did promote Iago to be his lieutenant, Iago would’ve carried on loyally serving Othello. Seeing as Shakespeare hasn’t given an alterior motive given in this play as to why Iago would want to betray Othello, or Cassio. After all of the year’s he has previously served by Othello’s side, other than the belief that Othello had bedded Iago’s wife, “And it is thought abroad that twixt’ my sheets” however Shakespeares use of Iago starting the sentence with “And” makes this reason seem like a secondary excuse, at the same time emphasizing how important the ideal of pride is to Iago and all other characters in this play, the fact that he is going to the lengths of manipulating the downfall of his “friend” and commander, Othello. Only because his pride was damaged, however pride is seen continually throughout the play as a very important factor, “Pride is the downfall of all venetians”

Othello was written during the Elizabethan period, black people were a lower class. Shakespeares use a black character for Othello emphasizes amongst other contributing factors, the reason why Othello has so much pride, Shakespeare used this as an important factor of Othello, because otherwise the audience would’ve grew to dislike Othello, for his over-bearing ego, however because Othello was a black character it allowed the audience in some sense to understand why he has so much pride, for the fact that racism was common in those days, and Othello had to fight prejeduices, and racist comments which Shakespeare shows throughout the play “Black ram tuping a white ewe”, so therefore it is understandable that Othello has so much pride from being a black slave, to an eponymous venetian army general.

The structure in Othello, is a typical example of a classical tragedy. The tragic hero always beings with being noble, and respected but by the end it is inevitable that the tragic hero would be a victim, and in most cases crushed by the author in this case Shakespeare’s use of the character Iago destroys war mongering general Othello, the tragic hero’s demise come at events which have either been forced on them, or they’ve fallen prey to something or another. In Othello it would be that he was destroyed by Shakespeares...
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