Essay, Research Paper: Othello

Shakespeare: Othello

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If one reads Shakespeare's Othello, they can come to the conclusion that it
might be one of the his most tragic plays ever written by Shakespeare. Romeo and
Juliet, is probably the most famous of his tragic plays, but Othello, has
characteristics that, I think make it even more tragic then his other plays, and
therefore for that reason, you can say that Othello is the most tragic hero.
Othello is a noble man, one who has grace with the ladies but also possesses all
the virtues of a military leader that he is. He is a general that is experienced
in battle. He has shown that he is reliable and well known in the military and
is well respected. His valiant personality, is what draws people to him, as it
does for Desdemona. The senators value him and hear what he says when he speaks.
This is shown here by one of the senators. "Here comes Barbantio and the
valiant Moor", (Act I scene 3, 47) . This is an example of the many
comments which shows Othello's character and personality as a person and an
officer. They say he is one of the great leaders. Not only does he posses great
character and courage, but also dignity. He keeps his control even when he is
being accused of witchcraft during the first encounter with the senators when
Desdemona's father confronts him about see his daughter. "Most potent,
grave, and reverend signors, My very noble and approved good masters; That I
have ta'en away this old man's daughter, It is most true; true I have married
her. The very head and front of my offending Hath the extent, no more. Rude I am
in my speech, And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace;" (I, iii,
91) This is an example of how Othello deals with style and grace under fire,
when he is accused of witch craft, by marrying Desdemona. He neither, yells or
screams, but explains in a manner that captivates his audience, and draws them
in to listen. A major sign that Othello shows his rage and jealousy occurs in
Act III, scene 3, when Iago is talking with Othello and tells him that Desdemona
is a whore. Othello's breakdown, almost to choke Iago, simply asks Iago
"Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore, Be sure if it. Give me the
ocular proof. Or by the worth of mine eternal soul, thou hadst been better have
been born a dog. Than answer my waked wrath." (Act III, scene 3) This a
point in the play where Iago starts unveil his malicious plan. It makes Othello
react, in a manner that he usually does not. Othello has many qualities that
contribute to his overall worth. One being his trustfulness. At this point in
time, Othello, says that Iago is a man of honor and trust, and therefore has no
reason not to distrust him. Many times Othello does not see the fake and
malicious acts of Iago. This is done to extend the play and also add to
Othello's tragic flaws. Othello trusts too easily. Othello is used to dealing
with military people and on the battle field, a place where you put your life in
the hands of others and trust is very important. Iago reputation on the battle
field is well known and is not tarnished. With Othello being a military leader
for most of his life, trusting another military friend, is not uncommon, and
therefore, Othello has no reason not to believe or trust Iago. So it can be said
that Othello has a number of tragic flaws, one being trust worthy. It is not to
say that being trust worthy is a bad characteristic, but to not trust your own
wife? Othello, tragically, in Act III, scene 3, is thoroughly corrupted by Iago,
says that he believes that Desdemona is honest, but yet he thinks that she is
not. This is a part that Othello's "innocence" is torn to bits,
because he does not know what to believe anymore. This is also where he comes to
Iago for advice, which is what Iago has been waiting for. Othello is seen as a
confused man without direction and does know what to do. "By the world, I
think that my wife be honest and think that she is not. I think that thou art
just and think she is not. Othello then says to Iago: "Damn her, lewd minx,
damn her, damn her! Come, go with me apart. I will withdraw To furnish me with
some swift means of death Far that fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant."
(Act 3, scene 4, 540) Here it shows that Othello is now starting to believe Iago.
Another time that Iago starts to make Othello believe even more that is wife is
unfaithful is when he tells Othello that he has overheard Cassio talking in his
sleep about Desdemona and that he has also noticed Cassio wiping his face with
the strawberry-embroidered handkerchief, that Othello had given to Desdemona for
his first present. This now where Othello is convinced that Desdemona has been
unfaithful, and vows revenge against Cassio and Desdemona. It is in this scene
that Iago implants the suspicions and jealousy in Othello's head, which
tragically bring about the events in the play. It is also here, where Desdemona
tries to reconcile the differences between Othello and Cassio, in which Othello
sees them together and reinforces the allegations that Iago has made to Othello.
Iago helps by adding the gasoline to the fire when he tells Othello about how
Cassio and Desdemona have known each other for some time. Othello is upset and
vows revenge. "Not with vain thanks but with acceptance bounteous, And will
upon the instant pit thee to't Within these three days let me hear thee say That
Cassio's not alive." (Act III, scene 4) Iago also reminds Othello that
Desdemona has also deceived her father, her own flesh an blood, why not then lie
to her husband. Othello then tells Iago that he is bound to him forever for all
that he has done for him. It is made clear in this scene that Iago is honest and
true man. A man of his word, and for that Othello is forever indebted. After the
events of the loss of the handkerchief, shown clearly is the anger of Othello
when he asks Desdemona to produce the handkerchief. When she can not, it is set
in his mind that she has been deceitful. It does not help the situation in any
way that Desdemona lies about having the handkerchief, it only adds to the fire
that burns within Othello's eyes. Othello's jealousy is the one flaw that brings
him down the most. It is not to say that with out Iago instigating all that he
has that the situation would have been better. But one can see that jealousy is
the knife that stabs himself. Othello is jealous of Desdemona and Cassio, which
can be somewhat understandable. It is known that Desdemona and Cassio have known
each other for sometime. It is known that Cassio has had a crush on Desdemona
for awhile. When Othello asks to see the handkerchief and she can't show it to
him, it makes him wonder. When Iago is talking to Cassio about Desdemona, while
Othello is listening, he makes him wonder. When Cassio is caught with the
handkerchief, it makes Othello wonder. With all of these attributes and events,
one can only be jealous of Cassio and Desdemona. Othello has been manipulated in
such a way by Iago though, that he won't even believe is own wife. Desdemona
pleads with Othello that she has been faithful and has done nothing wrong. It is
Othello's jealousy and Iago's malicious manipulating that leads to the death of
all of them. Even though Iago is the villain of all villains, Othello's tragic
flaw of jealousy, leads to his downfall. Iago manipulates the characters and
enrages Othello's fire of jealousy within himself. One can not only look at the
villainous plots of Iago, but also look at Othello's impractical train of
thought and jealousy. Othello does not reason with anyone except Iago. This is
why Iago is the villain of all villains. This is why Othello's jealousy can be
said to be his greatest downfall. Over the entire play, not only does Iago
become the antogonist that he is, but also Othello's tragic flaw of jealousy
leads to his, Iago's and innocent Desdemona. One can see why Othello, might be
Shakespeare's most tragic plays.
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