A tragic hero can be defined as the protagonist of a story who has a fall from grace. A tragic hero is a character who has everything going for him or her, however, they have a flaw that sparks their downfall. This is a perfect description of Othello because that is exactly what happens. Othello can be considered a tragic hero due to his greatness and weaknesses, nobility, and vulnerability.
Othello portrays himself has a tragic hero through his greatness and weaknesses.
“The tragic protagonist begins the play with some kind of hubristic certainty about the world, and their view of the world, and their view of themselves”(Chouhan). Othello proves this point by having qualities of a military leader and being the general of the Venetian army, making it out to be that Othello has the perfect life. Along with the positive characteristics comes the negative ones such as his weaknesses. “He may also be the victim of one or more artful manipulators who know him better than he knows himself”(Mcalindon). As explained in this quote Othello becomes blinded by trust, he tends to trust the people around him even when they mean to cause harm upon him. This reveals that his trusting nature is more of a weakness than a strength. Just as Othello is a virtuous man there are some flaws within him, these flaws complete him as a tragic hero.
Being that Othello is a tragic hero it can be shown through his nobility. Othello is a graceful man with a courageous personality which draws people near. In Act 1, Scene 3 Shakespeare establishes Othello’s strong and noble character through the refutation of claims made against him by Brabantio, the father of his fiancée. “I have ta’en away this man’s daughter / It is most true; true I have married her. The very head and front of my offending hath this extent, no more” (Shakespeare). Here Othello states while it is true that he and Desdemona plan to marry, this is all you can rightly accuse him of wanting to do – marry the woman he loves. He speaks plainly and respectfully to the council and through this and his obvious regard for Desdemona, his nobility and depth of character begins to become apparent. Othello’s traits slowly add up to be defined as a tragic hero.
Othello is perceived as a tragic hero through his vulnerability. Othello was vulnerable to Iago’s evil schemes. He was gullible enough to trust “Honest” Iago thinking that he was concerned about his living , but instead he and his wife became the victim of Iago’s wicked plan.”We are made to understand throughout that Othello is wrong about the facts” (Dillon). Throughout the story, Iago made devious schemes to manipulate Othello, making him believe that his wife Desdemona was having an affair with his lieutenant Cassio. Later on, Othello realizes that it was all a misunderstandment, but by that time it is a little too late as the tragic occurs. As a result of Othello believing Iago’s lies it led to the tragic flaw occurring, this what makes othello become the tragic hero of the story.
Othello is a tragic hero because of his tragic flaw. The tragedy is usually triggered by some error of judgment or some character flaw that contributes to the hero’s lack of perfection. Othello’s vulnerability makes him an easy target for Iago to manipulate his mind; he begins to believe that he isn’t good enough for Desdemona: “She’s gone, I am abused, and my relief Must be to loathe her. Oh, curse of marriage That we can call these delicate creatures ours And not their appetites!” (3.3.283 Shakespeare). Iago was easily able to convince Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful. Othello’s downfall is triggered when the jealous Iago begins adding ideas of doubt into Othello’s already insecure mind. Iago’s manipulative words convince Othello that his wife is unfaithful; from then on he begins to lose his noble traits. He treats his wife with no respect and eventually smothers her to death. However, Othello doesn’t realize his insecurities have taken over his life until it is too late and his tragic downfall has already gone all wrong.
Since the beginning Othello has been Iago’s target and it is all because of jealousy. “But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor, And it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets He has done my office. I know not if ‘t be true, But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety”(Shakespeare). Iago hates Othello because he passed him over for a promotion, but in this quote, he tells the audience he hates him because he has heard a rumor that Othello has been hooking up with his wife, Emilia. As Iago goes around telling everyone rumors and lies, Othello believes him not knowing that Iago is the main one who is corrupting him. By his actions, Othello has isolated himself from everyone except Iago
Othello can not handle the truth knowing that he has murdered his wife, Desdemona, over the lies that Iago told him.”She gave me for my pains a world of sighs. she swore in faith, twas strange,’twas passing strange. She wished that she had not heard it, yet she wished that heaven made her such a man”(Osherow). At this point Othello realizes he made a big mistake and that is something that he cannot take back and fix. Then he carries out his sentence, by taking a knife and stabbing himself. He then says “He then said: “I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this, Killing myself, to die upon a kiss”(Shakespeare). Othello is destroyed by himself, not by others.
Othello was a high ranking person in society full of happiness only to lose it all due to his fatal flaws of his weaknesses and vulnerability. Othello shows great qualities along with being a tragedy. The downfall of Othello is all his own doing making him the tragic hero of the play. Othello let Iago control the situation in what Othello thought at the time was Iago trying to help him.
As stated Othello has all the characteristics that make him into a tragic hero. In Othello, one of his most recognized tragedies was evolving around the theme of jealousy. His love for Desdemona has blinded him and it gave Iago a chance to trick him so easily. Due to his greatness and weaknesses, nobility, and vulnerability not only resulted in the deaths of three of Othello’s main characters, it caused the sudden deaths of innocent characters as well. This makes Othello seem like he is the bad guy in the story when in reality it is Iago who is the main cause of the tragic events.