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Othello Hero

.. ly on the beach, following the storm at sea, while all are awaiting the great Othello’s return by ship, Iago notices a strong relationship between Cassio and Desdemona as they are holding a conversation. Iago’s plot to destroy Othello unfolds and he plans to portray Desdemona as an unfaithful wife, a wife having an affair with Cassio. Iago’s plan evolves further and he gets his first opening following the part when Desdemona pleads for Cassio’s return to the position of lieutenant in Othello’s Army. Iago implants the seed about Cassio’s and Desdemona’s relationship.

Othello demands proof of the supposed torrid affair out of his tremendous love for his wife Iago lies and schemes his way out the conversation and continues on his ploy of destruction. Othello’s trusting nature, his greatest character fault, appears throughout the play but nowhere is it more evident than in the “temptation scene”, Act 3 Scene 3, when addressing Iago he states “I know thou’rt full of love and honesty, and weigh’st thy words before thou giv’st them breath .” (118-119). His faith in Iago is again ironically depicted in Act 5, Scene 1 when he [Othello] states “O brave Iago, honest and just, that hast such noble sense of thy friend’s wrong [Cassio’s alleged seduction of Desdemona)! Thou teachest me” (31-33). This statement follows Othello’s murder of this wife Desdemona, and goes to show that Othello had faith in the cynical Iago even after lago’s plan had been successfully executed by the unknowingly naive Othello. Othello’s second most noticeable character flaw is that of jealousy. His jealousy evolves from Iago’s deceitful plans.

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“One reason why some readers think Othello is “easily jealous” is that they completely misinterpret him in the early part of this scene [Act 3, Scene 3]. They fancy that he is alarmed and suspicious the moment he hears Iago mutter “Ha! I like not that”, as he sees Cassio leaving with Desdemona” (35). But, in fact, it takes a long time for Iago to excite surprise, curiosity, and them grave concern – by no means yet jealous – even about Cassio, and it is still longer before Othello understands that Iago is suggesting doubts about Desdemona too. (Wronged in 143 certainly does not refer to her, as 154 and 162 show)” Bradley, A.C., Shakespearean Tragedy, 3rd edition, New York, St. Martin Press, 1992], page 397).

It’s plain to see his love for Desdemona is very strong and he doesn’t lose faith in himself and his love so easily. However, later so strong becomes his jealousy that it leads him astray from his previous positive traits of confidence in himself, calm demeanor in stressfbl times and his abilities to make sound judgements. In one of his last speeches to Desdemona in Act 3, Scene 3, Othello chides himself for becoming angry with his wife and following her departure remarks to himself “Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul / but I do love thee! And whom I love thee not, / Chaos is come again” (90-91). His statement proves Iago’s plan is working and Othello’s’ trust in him [Iago] will not falter. Othello is clearly emanating pangs of jealousy here, he is hurt and his suffering is evident. He once held himself among the “great ones” (273) yet now his love is destroyed and is cursed by a “destiny unshunnable” (275).

The turning point in the play is here and the end will proceed swiftly from this point. The end nears as Othello’s portrait of himself is weakened. “..the final Othello is not a pretty sight to watch.. Consider his whimpering, his refusal to be himself, his uncontrolled screaming.” (Kirschbaum, Leo, “The Modern Othello”, (reprinted in English Literary History II, ([Dec 1994] pages 283-296). He now sees himself as a man deceived, by both Desdemona and Cassio, a man full of jealousy, and a man whose honor is now in question.

Even as the final climatic murder takes place Othello deceives himself by telling himself it is his duty to kill her, it is not an act of revenge. His mythology in killing her is “..she must die, else she’ll betray more men” (Act 5, Scene 2, line 6). “The murder of Desdemona acts out the final destruction in Othello himself of all the ordering powers of love, of trust, of the bond between human beings”. (Bloom, Harold, Modern Critical Views, William Shakespeare The Tragedies, New York, Chelsea House Publishers, c1985], page 85). Obviously Othello portrays the characteristics of a “hero” as defined by Aristotle. He clearly was a man of nobility, of noble character and held in a very high estate.

He began in this illustrious play by displaying all those positive traits which man continues to search for in order to fulfill a long and happy life. They included the ability to sincerely love and trust his fellow man/woman, his innocence, his religious background, his self control, sound judgment and confidence in his inner self as a human being. All these traits quickly came crashing down because of character flaws in other people such as deceit, fraud, seffishness, hatred and a deep desire for revenge. Following Othello’s trust for his good friend Iago he clearly demonstrated flaws in the forms of bad judgments, jealousy, loss of self control and his lack of self confidence in himself All this eventually led to the murder of the wife he continued to love through the end and his own eventual self inflicted death. His fllll from high to low estate is clearly visible. Shakespeare depicted all these events in a rather short, deep, highly emotional, passionate, intense play. Sheakspeare’s ability to develop such deep emotional characterizations remains unparalleled in modern world.

Bibliography Shakespeare, William, “Othello, the Moor of Venice” (reprinted in Lawrence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp, Literature: Structure Sound and Sense, 6th edition Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1993]. Hubele, Donald, M.A., (c1989, revised 1992). Student Videotape Course Worktext for Composition and Literature. School of Lifelong Learning, Liberty University, Publications Division.

Mehl, Dieter, Shakespeare’s Tragedies: An Introduction, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1986 Bradley, A.C., Shakespearean Tragedy, 3rd edition, ([New York, St. Martin Press, 1992], page 397). Kirschbaum, Leo, “The Modern Othello”, (reprinted in English Literary History II, ([Dec 1994] pages 283-296) Bradley, A.C., Shakespearean Tragedy, 3rd edition, New York, St. Martin Press, 1992.

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