William Shakespeare’s Othello tells a story of the tragic downfall of a man through jealousy and mistrust, influenced by the manipulative actions of another. Due to innumerable changes within society over time, it is inevitable that a wide range of critical interpretations and readings of the text will emerge.
My personal interpretation of the play draws from the concepts of the traditional Aristotelian views of a tragedy. An Aristotelian interpretation concerns itself with whether Othello can be considered a true tragedy. The two main principles which determine whether a text can be labelled as a true tragedy include the plot and the characters.
The first principle within an Aristotelian tragedy includes the idea of a “complex plot”. Aristotle classifies plots into two types; simple and complex. Aristotle defines a complex plot as a plot which “... is accompanied by ‘recognition’ and ‘reversal of intention’ ...” This recognition refers to a change from ignorance to knowledge. This idea is represented within the play through Othello’s trust in Iago stating – “Iago is most honest.” However the concept of recognition is expressed when Emilia exposes Iago and his evil doings, leading to the loss of Othello’s trust as Othello says – “I look down towards his feet ...”
A reversal of intention refers to the turning point where the protagonist’s intentions are reversed eventually leading to his or her death. This concept is evident in the final scenes where Othello’s mind has been corrupted by the manipulative Iago which influences Othello’s intent on murdering Desdemona stating – “Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men.” However, as the play nears an end and Othello learns of the evil doings of Iago, he grieves over the murder of his pure and innocent wife. Othello then commits suicide by stabbing himself, symbolising the reversal of intention as he regretfully cries – “O Desdemona, Desdemona! Dead!”
The second principle involves the...