The book Othello, The Moor of Venice is one of William Shakespeares works of literature that displays his literal styles

Outline

Introduction

A brief description of the contents of the paper

Justification of Play as a Tragedy

Individuality of the Victim

Disenchantment of Hope

Death of Othello

Justification of Aristotle Definition of Tragic Leader in the Play

Presence of Greatness

Presence of Imperfection

Unfair Consequence Upon the Hero

Conclusion

A summary of the contents of the paper

Introduction

The book ‘Othello, The Moor of Venice’ is one of William Shakespeare’s works of literature that displays his literal styles of writing. There is evident use of the Elizabethan English which is a style that characterizes Shakespeare’s novels. This was widely used especially in the eighteenth century. Besides this, the popularity of William Shakespeare’s novels especially for literature study increases with time. Basically, most of his novels were either a tragedy or a romance. Tragedy was not viewed in the literal sense but rather, a novel whose ending was not a happy one. This is the case with the novel in question where the protagonist becomes subject to an unfortunate turn of events. Clearly, in the opening scenes, things seemed to be alright making the story flawless and creating a lot of suspense. However as the story unfolds, there is a systematic introduction of various events that cause a twist in the story. Linguistics and other reviewers of literature have drawn different conclusions with varying reviews of the book. However, there is an empirical fact that is agreed by all that the story is a tragedy. Thus, this paper is aimed at reviewing the main character and how his role as a tragic hero is brought out. Considering the much expectations people had of Othello as a warrior compared to the outcome, the book can undoubtedly be referred to as a tragedy.

We realize that according to Shakespeare as empirically proved from most of his novels, tragedy is usually a situation that ends up contradicting that which was the initial expectation of the audience/readers (Chandler, 1965). The book focuses on the kinds of tricks used by Lago against Othello for promoting a person who was his junior. In the process, many people are involved some knowingly and others unknowingly. This begins with the realization of Roderigo that Othello had married the woman he was in love with despite his earlier attempts to make his intentions known to her father. As he explains to Lago his situation, Lago realizes he was the perfect person to execute his revenge plan against Othello. Roderigo blindly complies not realizing there was nothing in it for him. If anything, he had everything to lose. Lago successfully frames Cassio – the person who was promoted – for having a relationship with Othello’s wife, Desdemona so that he would get rid of him. Eventually, Othello’s decision to kill both of them leaves him as a criminal and is meant to be arrested for murder. This happens after he realizes his wife’s innocence and the whole set up which was confessed by Emilia. Lago is sentenced for the same crime as Othello; however, Othello commits suicide before he can be arrested (Shakespeare, and Neill, 2006).

Some of the aspects that justify the reference of the book as a tragedy include:

Individuality of the Victim

This is an aspect undoubtedly evident throughout the book where the protagonist was being victimized without his knowledge. It is also worth noting that the supporting parties in his victimization were also unaware of the turnout of events. Emilia specifically, was not aware that the handkerchief she was asked to steal would be implanted as false evidence against Othello’s wife (Shakespeare, and Neill, 2006). Lago in this case can be considered the antagonist. This is because he was the major opposing party against the main character. In literature, tragic stories usually focus on individuals who in most cases have totally different characters, thus one is plotting something negative against the other. As mentioned above, the others included are usually meant to enable the plan work out with or without their knowledge.

To bring out this characteristic of tragedy, William Shakespeare ensured that both characters, Lago and Othello work with their own skill and to achieve different goals. This emphasizes individuality of the victims (Chandler, 1965). Lago’s goal was to remove Cassio out of the picture so that he could secure his position which he had been given by Othello. He also wanted to get back at Othello for giving preference to his junior when he felt that he was the rightful person to be promoted. His end is however not considered tragic in the sense that the outcome was unexpected but rather, that he was sentenced to torture which is not very pleasing. Similarly, Roderigo though not very influential was involved to get the woman he loved back, thus he did what he could against the protagonist. The most significant event is however the decision to kill his wife that Othello did himself. Though he had previously ordered that to be done by one of his men, he eventually did it himself which was a much unexpected act/move from him. These scenarios emphasize the perception of tragedy in a book where all acts committed have to be done individually against the victim or by the victim to another person.

Disenchantment of Hope

(Chandler, 1965) also describes a tragic book /novel as one where hope that was initially present is lost. This conclusion was drawn from a detailed comparison of all of Shakespeare’s tragic stories and established as a common feature in all. (Brothers Judd, 2001) also elaborated that, “… is in many ways the most tragic of Shakespeare’s heroes, because his ultimate destruction is so much a function of his best qualities.” This is also ironical since under normal circumstances, it would be expected that the victim of the tragedy succumbs due to his/her weakness. In this case however, Lago targeted Othello who fell for the trap using his greatest strength which was being a strong warrior and sorting out situations. This clearly shattered the hope that the people- readers/viewers had in him.

Initially, there was hope that he would manage to realize the truth about his wife before it was too late. Similarly, it was beyond any kind of expectations that he would resolve to killing his wife after finding out what she did. Though it was not true, it was still strange that he would kill her. However, this was the sole intention of the antagonist Lago, to eliminate both Cassio and Othello. It is worth noting that in a tragedy novel/book, the antagonist does not necessarily emerge victorious. He/she is always caught up with as well at the end. However, the damage done to the main character is usually beyond what can be corrected at the time. This generally kills all the hope that the reader had. Based on the argument by (Brother Judd, 2001), it was ironical when reviewing the causes of the downfall of Othello. As a warrior and a leader of the people, he would have used his wit and inquisitive requirement of the career to find out more about the alleged affair. Hope as described above was lost upon the use of tact and the procedures of his career to harm him. For instance, Lago gladly volunteered to question Cassio in the presence of Othello. It is also clear that instead of asking questions regarding the concerned party, he questioned about Bianca a lady that Cassio had an affair with (Shakespeare, and Neill, 2006). Thus, any hope that he would be convinced otherwise was disappointed, thus a tragedy.

Death of Othello

In any tragic novel by William Shakespeare, one common and evident feature is that all the protagonists eventually die. This happens in different ways which include suicide. It could also be a misunderstanding that leads to unexpected deaths of the protagonist and some other supporting characters. This concept is clearly bought out by (Chandler, 1965) where he compares the events that occurred in the novel with other by the same author. This is the main characteristic defining a tragic story. We also realize it intertwines the above concepts in itself. The loss of hope and individuality are the main factors that lead to the death of the protagonist. It is clear that if these situations could be corrected early enough, the tragic death of the main character Othello could not be experienced. This in most cases closes the scenes since the story cannot have a stable turnout without the main character, this is also the case since after the suicide of Othello, Lago is taken into custody and the scene closes marking the end of the play. (Shakespeare, and Neill, 2006) clearly bring out this scene towards the end of the play where Othello regrets his act upon finding out that it was all a set up. He finds out about this while trying to justify his case as one of adultery and goes ahead to mention the handkerchief as what he had to prove it. When he is taken away, he kills himself either out of pride and despise of custody and lack of freedom or guilt of committing a crime to an innocent person, particularly his wife. It could also be due to inability to believe that he had been set up so tactically without sensing a thing.

The above description gives a clear clarification of how the events turned out and gives a clear picture of how the story was a tragedy. Aristotle also clearly defined tragedy and elaborated the aspects that it constitutes which this book clearly relates to. Thus, these justify the labelling of Othello as a tragic hero. The play can also be describes as an Aristoltelian tragedy following its correspondence to the descriptions. These aspects are relevant to the book as follows:

Presence of Greatness

According to (Aristotle, and Butcher, 2008), for a person to be describes as a tragic hero in a play, he must possess qualities of a great leader that set him apart from other in the play. Further, he should be in a higher position or rank that gives him much more recognition besides being the protagonist. Undoubtedly, these are the qualities which were present in Othello. He had the leading role in the scenes and all the other characters were either directly or indirectly related to him. He was in charge of the warriors and a warrior himself, which gave him the right to decide who takes what position in the team. In general, Othello qualified to be defined as a tragic hero according to Aristotle, thus, the play being an Aristoltelian tragedy.

Presence of Imperfection

It is worth noting that greatness and significance in a particular area in life does not guarantee a person the right to be perfect. Clearly, no human is perfect, thus (Aristotle, and Butcher, 2008) stated that for a person to qualify to be a tragic hero, some traits of imperfection had to be visible. These were possibly the factors that led to the death or the tragic event happening against the character. In the case of Othello, he was deeply in love with his wife which could lead him to do anything for her and against her when she betrays him. Similarly, he trusted so much in his skill and way of profession that when Lago used the same to get him to doubt Cassio, he was not keen enough to find out much more or enquire the logic behind the whole concern. Lastly, he was too spontaneous such that upon finding the truth, he took it upon himself to kill himself. These characters prove his imperfection, thus, a tragic leader according to Aristotle.

Unfair Consequence upon the Hero

This description qualifies the reference of Othello as a tragic hero. His death was quite undeserving since the crime he committed against his wife was a set up by his rivals. (Aristotle, and Butcher, 2006) clearly stated that for a character to be called a tragic hero, his punishment in case of a wrongdoing must have been greater that what would have been fair. When found out, Othello went ahead to explain the reasons that led to him committing the crim. He claimed that his wife had been unfaithful and had committed adultery with one of his men. His attempt to justify himself clearly showed that the act could have somehow been justifiable and understandable since he may have acted out of anger or desperation. Thus, his punishment was too much for a person who had no intention of harming an innocent person, but rather was mislead to thinking he had been wronged. This also proves that the story is a tragedy and Othello a tragic hero.

Conclusion

From the discussion above, it is clear that William Shakespeare’s way of writing is interconnected and distinguishes his style from other authors. The use of tragedy to define the occurrences is an eye opener on the actual events that occur to rival the protagonist. Aristotle also evidently defines the characteristics of a tragic leader which refer to Othello. This also justifies the reference of the pay as a tragedy and also fits the Aristoltelian tragedy. It is therefore worth understanding that a tragic play is one that does not match the expectations of the viewer/reader and has no happy ending.

References:

Aristotle, & Butcher, S. H. (2008). Poetics. New York: Cosimo Classics.

Chandler, D. (1965). The Essence of Shakespearean Tragedy. http://www.lcurve.org/writings/Tragedy.htm

Brothers Judd. (2001). The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice (1604). Retrieved from http://brothersjudd.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/481

Shakespeare, W., & Neill, M. (2006). Othello, the Moor of Venice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Aristotle. Retrieved from http://vccslitonline.cc.va.us/tragedy/aristotle.htm

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