“Othello” isa Shakespearean tragedy it encompasses many different elements.
Shakespeare representsall of these elements spectacularly in “Othello”. There are other themes suchas trust and manipulation and racism. The fact that Shakespeare’s hero is ablack man affected his audience.
Black people to leave England because they weretaking Christian people’s jobs. This extreme narrow-minded view was the productof centuries of piles up ideas about racial hierarchy, but it also wasreinforced by ideas of class and gender difference. Tragedies in this periodfocus on the upper classes and political transaction between families. WhenOthello married Desdemona, their kind of marriage was for love and sexualdesire which challenges the social norms and it can be desperately fragile,either because of their own internal weakness or because of external pressures.The great theme in this play is the love between Othello and Desdemona met byjealousy, hate, treachery and finally death. The full title of the play givesus a better understanding of it. “Othello” is a tragedy and we expect thetragic hero to end up dead or at least destroyed.
Also “The Moor” gives us moreinformation about the hero. The term Moor refers to the Muslim citizens ofNorth Africa, mainly Morocco and Algeria. In the time of Othello’s performance,the term “Black Moor” wasn’t a very respectful term to describe a black skinnedwith.
There are five conditions occur in tragedy. The protagonists always havea characters faults or a “tragic flaw” in the Shakespearean tragedies. This “tragicflaw” is referring to a figure characteristics of the main character to makemistake in judgment leading him to this downfall and finally death. Thedownfall of the central character in the main reason for the tragedy.
On theother hand, a “Tragic Hero” empowers a human propensity to make mistake injudgment. We have F.R Leavis and A.C Bradly’s explanation and assessment of”Othello” as a tragic hero.
Othello is atragic hero in that he allowed his jealousy to defeat him. It is one thing tobe jealous, but Othello performed on his doubt and put to death his wife,Desdemona. Because Iago implanted seeds of jealousy, Othello was taken into atrap. Othello should have confidence his wife. His faith about the wrong manand his life break off in tragedy.
Othello, a Moorish general army in theservice of Venice. A loving and courageous soldier with a candid and truthfulnature, he has a weakness that makes him helpless to Iago’s devilishtemptation. He becomes jealous of his innocent wife and his faithfullieutenant. His character declines, and he ignores Iago to have his lieutenantmurdered. Finally, he decides to kill his wife with his own hands. Afterkilling her, he experiences his innocence, and he justices and kills himself. Revengeis a certain theme throughout the play, Othello. It is represented by thecharacter Iago.
Iago is ascertained to demolish Othello and his loved ones.This requital is a result of Othello promoting Cassio to the location oflieutenant. The theme of revenge is the inspiration of Iago’s contempt towardOthello. On the other hand, “Othello” is a domestic tragedy is the meaning thatit deals with domestic issues of a couple’s married life. The husband’s jealousyand he trust blinded of Iago as his life’s authority and also the wife’sstupidity which leads to their inversion. He capitulates to his anger andunreasonable thinking.
Thecharacter of Iago is both key and complex. Iago himself offers many explanationsand reasons for his behavior during the play, his reasons may not be right buthe is intending to destroy people’s lives in the process of completing them. Iagois the perfect villain. His character is eroded by jealousy and hatred. He isfeeling angry and humiliated because he didn’t get the promotion, a chance tobe in a higher position in the army. These feelings were obvious from thebeginning. He also doesn’t seem to respect Othello much.
His tone when he talksabout him is very sarcastic and disrespectful. He even refers to him as “hismoor ship”, which is a pun for “his worship”. From the beginning, Iago isrepresented as a manipulative person. He encourages Roderigo to prankBrabantio.
Iago’s language might seem complex and unclear, but this’s a part ofShakespeare’s characterization of him. One remarkable sentence that he said,”I’m not what I am”. This reflects a very mysterious personality and unclear purposes.There’s ahuge difference between Othello’s and Iago’s language. It reflects how differentIago is from the hero. His language is usual, prose, less impressive, andviewing love as a sexual desire only.
In the final speech of this scene, Iagois alone, and we were given access to his thoughts through a soliloquy. Shakespearegiving the audience with Iago’s soliloquies is like providing an overview ofwhat is about befall, making an obvious picture in the audiences’ heads andthen pursuit towards it, and also a profound insight into Iago’s character. Thesoliloquy discloses to us Iago’s motivations and his plan to use Cassio tobring Othello down.
Iago exposes his hatred for Othello. He tells us his plan,he will use the free and open nature, and Cassio’s honest appearance and modestyagainst them. Iago is greeting the audience, and although we don’t sympathizewith him, we now know his intentions and inner thoughts. We know from earlierthat Iago hates Othello for not giving him the preferment that he deserves, butnow he seems to find another reason to hate him, which is the rumors aboutOthello and his wife Emilia, that they are sleeping together. But this wasn’tmentioned again or emphasized, which makes us wonder if Iago is just lookingfor any reason to justify his unreasonable hatred for Othello?Iago’sactions were always a questionable area for critics, what are his real motives?The romantic poet Samuel Coleridge said that Iago’s actions are coming from hishatred and the pure evilness inside him, rather than any logical reason. Atthis point, we can see Iago’s true evil self, unlike the other characters.Iago’s best weapon is that he knows the other characters better thanthemselves, then he manipulates and plays with his words to let them hear whatthey want until he gets what he wants.
For example, Othello thinks that Iago isan honest man that he gave him the mission of supervising Desdemona’s trip toCyprus. Othello is easily cheated by Iago. He trusts Iago more than he trustshis wife. Othello is cheated by Iago because Iago is a master at manipulation.No doubt, Iago is a clever man. He is a master at deception. In act II, SceneIII, Othello expresses his trust in Iago, insisting that Iago is an honest man.
He has no reason to suspect that Iago is lying. Othello claims Iago is anhonest man:”… I knowyou are full of love and honestyAnd weighyour words carefully before saying them.”It’sclearly, Othello is too trusting. He believes that Iago is his honest ensign.
Othello could never imagine that anyone who works for him could be deceitful.Othello believes Iago because Iago is very convincing. He is an expert actor. Iago can beblamed for Othello’s downfall because it is his inherent evil, jealousy, andindignation towards the general that leads him to enter an evil plot, not onlyto punish him but to get free of him completely. From beginning to end, Iagoorchestrates the whole cowardly plan that brings about Othello’s dishonor andloose of life, starting with the madness of Cassio, Othello’s dependedlieutenant. After insulting Cassio, Iago starts believing Othello that Cassioand Desdemona are having an affair, a claim bolstered by his well-knownhandkerchief trick. Finally, wrongly realized that Desdemona is engaged withCassio, Othello kills her.
After that he find out his mistake, Othello killshimself. This tragic sequence of events is caused by Iago’s evasion, so he canbe observed as elementary cause of Othello’s downfall. The play not onlyfocuses on Othello’s tragic end, but also on the way Iago causes it through hisextend fraud. Othello is so ready to accept Iago’s insinuations because it isOthello’s own insecurity that gives Iago the scope to work on his fears andmanipulate him. Othello’s insecurities come from that fact that he is anoutsider, he is not originally from Venice. Also, he is ethnically different.Iago, Roderigo, and Brabantio take it for granted that the marriage between ablack African and a white Venetian woman is abnormal. Brabantio’s firstpresumption was that Othello must have fascinated his daughter because there’sno way she could’ve chosen to love.
All these humiliating and racist complaintadded to Othello’s insecurities. Also, his insecurity about his age. He’safraid that Desdemona would in the end love another man because he’s much olderthan her.
Iago echoes Brabantio’s warning to Othello, that just like she fooledher father and married him, she’s going to fool him and love another man. Thefact that Othello doesn’t have any experience with women. Othello’sinsecurities about his race and age and lack of experience with women made himtend to expect the worst of Desdemona.
This’s not a justification for hismurder, but it could be an explanation. Iago does not have the free will torefrain from wickedness. His behavior does not qualify him to see therighteousness in anyone or anything, he is driven by a rapacity for evil beyondhis control.
A.C. Bradleyand F.R. Leavis differ in their assessment of “Othello” as a tragic hero in theplay. A.
C. Bradley looks to Othello as a hero, pro-Othello, a victim and an “openand passionate”, a lover the power of whose emotion inspired the love not onlyof Desdemona, but the audience. He insults the society and Iago because theytransformed Othello from a noble and a good person to a monster.
Bradley sympathieswith Othello because the racism in the society and the devilish Iago, both Iagoand Roderigo deliberated as an external powers, have disconcerted him and makehim loose his sense of nobility and rationality. Bradley discovers Iago a pureevil, the master of manipulation. He says that Iago ruined a great love storyin which the lovers could’ve lived ever after. Othello is a hero because he hasacquired victories and faces the danger and obstacles during his life until hebecomes a general in the Venetian army.
Unfortunately, the Venetian society hasa large part contributed to Othello decease. On the other hand, F.R. Leavis believesthat Bradley sentimentalized Shakespeare’s tragedy and displaced its centre.Leavis believes that Othello is the main character, while Iago is just asubordinate. Leavis focus on the “temptation scene” is assistant, since it isthe turning point of the action.
He believes that Othello is “Anti-Othello” nota hero and he is responsible for his own downfall. Moreover, he suggests thatIago is not “external evil” that is responsible and not to insult wholly.Othello ponder that his wife no longer loves him, maybe because he is too oldfor her, because he is black. Also, his unlimited trust on others speciallyIago beside his is lack of self-esteem makes him gives Iago the opportunity tocontrol his thoughts and life.
Leavis sees Othello as self-dramatizer who letsIago leads his life because he doesn’t have enough self-confidence. Anotherpoint is, he is funky actions, and he can’t face his fears and always givesirrational decisions without controlling his anger and jealousy. All theseissues push him to kill his wife and suicide.