July 19, 2014
An Aristotelian Analysis of Othello
A tragedy is an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress. Considering Aristotelian beliefs, a tragic hero is a great character whose character flaws eventually lead to their fall. Aristotle’s writing is indicative of what he believed to be a tragic hero, and the character Othello possesses each quality, meaning he is a successfully written tragic hero. He is of high status and nobility, both in position and character. However, this status does not make him perfect- he has flaws. As well, Othello has tragic flaws, which lead to his downfall and make it partially his fault. However, the tragedy which ensues is not entirely of loss, as the tragic hero does learn and understand something great from it. Lastly, the end of the tragedy (and perhaps the tragic hero) does not leave the audience with a depressing afterthought, but rather a catharsis which cleanses negative emotions and provides personal reflections. This view of a tragic hero is a great model for this type of story, and it often appears through Shakespeare’s works. Othello is one of the greater examples.
The first quality which describes an Aristotelian tragic hero is their nobility and greatness of character. Othello is a physically powerful character in high status, though not in royalty. He is the General and commander of the Venetian armies, the highest rank in their military. This makes Othello well known by not only the army but by some of the city and officials. Although he is an outsider (in that he is a black person and originated from a different culture), he is an important character in the city’s civic and social map. People recognize him as a leader who is able to command the army with effectiveness. He has significant experience and skill as a soldier (“For since these arms of mine had seven years ' pith till now some nine moons wasted, they have used their dearest action in the tented