|Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well.|
|Where virtue is, these are more virtuous.|
|Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw|
|The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt,|
|For she had eyes, and chose me.(3.3.208-14)|
With Iago's validation of his suspicions, the Moor's barbaric nature can surface. His warrior instincts can take over, which is exactly what Othello wanted all along. He is comfortable only in the role of the aggressor. Why does Othello not make a better effort to combat Iago's accusations? It is true that he asks for some material proof of his wife's treachery, but he does not at all question the evidence when it is laid before him. As far as Othello is concerned a trusted friend and soldier has confirmed what he himself suspected all along and that is proof enough -- reason enough to condemn her to death.
Ay, there's the point! as (to be bold with you) Not to affect many proposed matches Of her own clime, complexion, and degree, Whereto we see in all things nature tends ... Her will, recoiling to her better judgement, May fall to match you with her country forms, And happily repent. (3.3.228-34)
The most damaging evidence that Othello is fully reasonable, and rendering this twisted justice out of pride and bitterness, comes In Act 4. Othello has had an epileptic seizure and is clearly shaken, yet it is obvious that he is still in full possession of his mental faculties. His low self-esteem led him to believe in Desdemona's betrayal, but his fierce warrior conceit will force him to make sure she pays dearly for her transgression. Like Iago, plotting his course of destructive action, Othello too plots the death of Desdemona with calculating reason:
Othello is now concerned only with rendering justice:
Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be calm to-night; for she shall not live. No, my heart is turn'd to stone. (4.1.178-9)
Othello claims that he is not seeking revenge. However, by refusing Desdemona the chance to defend herself, it is not clear how his form of justice differs from pure vengeance. The Moor is going to make sure the adulteress pays for her crime and her deception. After all, she made him look like a fool: "Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men" (5.2.6). Othello is going to save others from falling into her diabolical trap; he is acting as judge and executioner without permitting Desdemona an attempt to prove her innocence.
Iago: Do it not with poison. Strangle her in bed, even the bed she hath contaminated. (4.1.202) Othello: Good, good! The justice of it pleases. Very good! (4.1.204)
One must ask if these are the actions of a mentally weak man, a mere puppet in the hands of lago? Othello cannot trust his wife on earth because he is incapable of understanding why she loves him and, therefore, cannot believe her love is genuine. After she is dead, he will be free to love his idealistic image of Desdemona without worry:
Othello kills Desdemona under the guise of righteous indignation and will not admit his true motive. When Othello finds out Desdemona truly is the pure and innocent emblem he created in his mind, he is obligated to commit suicide. The Moor must again render justice, this time upon himself. Othello's remorse and subsequent suicide is the only reason why we should not place him on the same villainous level as Iago. But, at the same time, his feelings of guilt after-the-fact cannot be allowed to exonerate him. Othello has an obligation to allow Desdemona to contend the charge of adultery. He chooses to disregard that obligation in favour of satisfying his own fixations. It would be easier for us to defend Othello and cast all the blame on Iago. Iago is an aberration, but Othello is 'Everyman', fighting an internal battle between good and evil. It would feel better to see Othello as a mental weakling, driven insane by his pain and confusion. We could then say with certainty that he did not choose evil over good. But we cannot exonerate him. Othello's sin against Desdemona is as heinous as Iago's sin against Othello. Othello proves it with his own words:
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee, And love thee after ... (5.2.18-9)
Please note that this is only one interpretation of the character of Othello. Many believe Othello to be wholly innocent and heroic in the face of Iago's evil. For a more forgiving view of the Moor, please see A. C. Bradley's Lecture on Othello.
Desdemona: Kill me to-morrow; let me live to-night! Othello: Nay, an you strive- Desdeemona: But half an hour! Othello: Being done, there is no pause. Desdemona: But while I say one prayer! Othello: It is too late. (5.2.80-5)
Back to Othello Resources
How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Othello Character IntroductionShakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/othello/othellochar.html >.
Adamson, Jane. Othello as Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980.
Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare's Othello. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.
Rolfe, William J. A Life of William Shakespeare. Boston: Dana Estes & Company, 1948.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Tucker Brooke. New Haven: Yale UP, 1947.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. George Kittredge. Toronto: Blaisdell Publishing, 1966.
Turnbull, William. Othello: A Critical Study. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1892.
Zimbardo, Philip. Psychology and Life. New York: Harper Collins, 1992.
Lectures on Othello: Play Construction and the Suffering and Murder of Desdemona
Lectures on Othello: Othello's Jealousy
Stage History of Othello
Othello: Plot Summary
Othello: Q & A
Quotes from Othello
How to Pronounce the Names in Othello
Cassio Character Introduction
Iago Character Introduction
Desdemona Character Introduction
Othello: Essay Topics
Shakespeare's Sources for Othello
The Problem of Time in Othello
Othello as a Tragic Hero Essay
723 Words3 Pages
Othello is a tragic hero because of his greatnesses and his weaknesses. He is a noble man who possesses all the qualities of a military leader, which he is. He has control over himself and shows courage as well as dignity. Just as Othello is a virtuous man there are some flaws within him, these flaws complete him ff as a tragic hero. Othello is often blinded by trust and can not see a person for who they really are. He trusts the people around him even when they mean to afflict harm upon him. Through this, it can be seen why Othello is one of the most tragic hero out of all the characters from Shakespeare’s many plays.
To begin with, Othello is a graceful man with a valiant personality which draws people near. Although he is known…show more content…
Even in the toughest of times, he keeps his anger under control. “I will a round unvarnished tale deliver of my whole course of love – what drugs, what charms, what conjuration, and what mighty magic (for such proceeding and charged withal) I won his daughter” (Act 1, scene 3, 90-94)
As an example. this shows how Othello deals with style and grace under fire, when accused of witchcraft by marrying Desdemona. Othello neither yells nor screams, but explains in a way that captivates his audience and enhances the emotions in the play.
Aside from the greatnesses there also are some flaws. With Othello being a military leader for most of his life, trusting another military friend would be common and therefore Othello had no reason to not trust iago. So it can be said that Othello has tragic weaknesses, one being too trustworthy. Many times Othello does not see the evil acts of iago. He is used to dealing with military people on the battlefield, where you put your life in the hands of others. In this situation trust is very important. Othello says that iago is a man of honor and trust and therefore has no reason to doubt his honesty.
Likewise another weakness of Othello’s would be that he is a man who gets confused easily and cannot judge right from wrong. This can be seen when