Othello - the Greatest Tragedy

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A Shakespearean tragedy is one that encompasses many different elements. Shakespeare presents all of these elements spectacularly in Othello. For a tragedy to occur there are five conditions. The protagonist, Othello in this case, must experience a death or a total loss of ranking in society. The audience must also be captured by the actors and feel some sort of connection to them. This is known as catharsis. In Shakespearean tragedies the protagonist always has a character defect or a tragic flaw. This tragic flaw along with pride will cause the protagonist to make an error in judgement leading him to his downfall and eventual death. These two elements are called hubris and

hamartia. The unities of time, space, and action must also be followed. This means that the play must take place in a very short period of time, occur in one general area, and follow one main character throughout the play. Shakespeare orates for us a tragic occurrence in the life of a man who once had it all, throws it all away in a fit of jealous rage .

The downfall of the central character is the main concept of the tragedy. Without the main character's downfall there is no reason for the reader to feel pity, therefore, no tragedy. The downfall of the protagonist in Shakespearean tragedies always originates from their tragic flaw. Othello's tragic flaw is his jealousy, which Iago constantly reminds him about. This is first brought about in act III, scene 3 when Iago asks Othello if he has "Seen a handkerchief spotted with strawberries… did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with" (III, 3, 431-432/435-436). At this point Othello is jealous at Cassio for having won the heart of Desdemona and earned the handkerchief. Upon hearing this Othello flies into a mad fit by saying "O, that the slave had forty thousand lives!" (III, 3, 439). By his jealousy Othello makes himself very prone to many attacks on him by Iago.

Catharsis is the part of the play that...
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