“The tragic flaw is the most important part of the hero and the events that occur in the work is a reflection of that flaw. ” – Aristotle The plot of William Shakespeare’s Othello is a tale of love, jealousy, and betrayal; however, the characters, themes, and attitudes of the works are different, with Shakespeare’s play being a more involved study of human nature and psychology. Othello is considered to be a prime example of Aristotelian drama. It focuses upon a very small cast of characters, one of the smallest used in Shakespeare. Also, it has few distractions from the main plot, and concentrates on just a few themes, like jealousy.
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello is an excellent example of an Aristotelian tragic hero. His gullibility and jealousy are the main reason of his downfall. Othello deals with love lost because of gullibility and jealousy. The main character, Othello, is a classical example of a tragic hero, and he has the basic elements that match him up to be a true hero defined by Aristotle. His stature, that of a tall, dark, African Moor, combined with his personal magnetism, assist him in gaining the respect and allegiance of the Venetian people and senators.
Othello, being a soldier all his life, is seen as a very honorable man. His title alone, governor-general, presents an air of nobility, confidence, and strength. The title defines someone who is held in tremendously high esteem by the people of Venice. An example would be when the Duke and a few Senators are discussing issues around a table when Othello enters the room. It’s clear that Othello is held in high esteem when, as he enters, one of the senators states “Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor”(3:1:33: 55).
Othello’s confidence in himself, another of his positive attributes, is clearly portrayed as he defends himself and his recent marriage to Desdemona, the daughter of the Venetian Senator Brabantio. In his defense, he associates himself with one of the “great ones” of the world. He also demonstrates confidence in himself and his actions when Brabantio, Desdemona’s outraged father, accuses the Moor of witchcraft. Dignity, courage, a strong belief in religion, self-control and sound judgment is a few of Othello’s other positive attributes portrayed in the play.
His confidence in himself and his courage are clearly evident when Othello makes a stand before Brabantio, Roderigo and Iago, when following the drawing of their swords, Othello, as opposed to withdrawing in the face of danger taunts “Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. ” (1:2:25:76-77). Shakespeare continues to portray Othello as a well-respected nobleman throughout his play, from beginning to end. Shakespeare also shows a soft side when he displays Othello’s love and confidence in his wife Desdemona. Othello entrusts his wife to the care of another gentleman, as he must go off to war in Cyprus.
The entrusted man and his wife happen to be his good friend Iago and his wife Emilia. His trustworthiness makes him a greatly respected person. Through nobility, respect, love, and trust, Othello is considered to be an honorable and commendable man. However, Othello’s background is unsophisticated, and often affects his attitude. Othello is a person who is innocent and base in nature. He was influenced by the way his life was going on. The people around Othello also knew of his attitude. Iago is very quick to see this. In his first soliloquy, Iago says, “the Moor is of a free and open nature that thinks men honest that but seem to be so. 1:3:55:442-443) Iago knew of Othello’s weakness. Othello’s innocence and baseness makes him susceptible to being undermined by people.
Iago also reveals his plan to use the Moor’s gullibility against him. Othello is clearly a person who believes appearances versus reality. When Othello was told about an affair between Desdemona and Cassio, he started to become jealous. Being that person who believes appearances, he wanted ocular proof of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. Even a superficial piece of evidence would have been sufficient. In his statement, “Give me a living reason she is disloyal. 3:3:147:466) Othello revealed that he would believe in anything he saw. This is a clear example of his gullibility and that appearances can fool him. The tragic flaw of gullibility leads his feelings to make bad judgments.
Othello’s gullibility is very evident to Iago, and his free and open nature makes him vulnerable to being tricked by Iago. Therefore, when the initial rumor of an affair between Desdemona and Cassio was implanted in Othello’s head, Iago built up his trust with the Moor by saying, “O, beware, my lord of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on. 3:3:129:195-197) Othello eventually becomes overtaken with all of the jealousy that is in his mind. Othello is furious at “Iago. Othello then plans to murder Desdemona and Cassio, while Iago agrees to help. When Othello finally went through with his plan, the dying Desdemona reassures her faith to him. Othello believes Iago and his own false deductions instead of his own wife.
Desdemona did not realize Othello’s flaws. In her statement, “And but my noble Moor is true of mind and made of no such baseness as jealous ones are, it were enough to put them to ill thinking. 3:4:153:26-29) She judged Othello opposite to what he really was. She did not suspect that Othello would suspect her for an affair. In reality, Othello is a gullible person who is drawn into jealousy and falseness by Iago. Othello accomplished his plan of killing his wife and destroying a marriage that had no reason to be torn apart. In conclusion, because of Othello’s gullibility and jealousy, and Iago’s skills and intelligence, lives are ruined, and bad mistakes are made, which leads to Othello’s downfall, and death.
Even though Othello was well respected, and very confident, because of his tragic flaw he was unstable, and led him to believe lies by Iago. His trusting nature, overwhelmed him, because he decided to trust and believe Iago over Desdemona, which eventually led him to kill her in the end. In Shakespeare’s Othello, jealousy and gullibility, are flaws of the main character, Othello. His flaws completely put him in a different frame of mind, and cause him to make poor decisions. So, be careful of jealousy and gullibility. It is mysterious and can do harmful things to people it takes over.