The following sample essay on Is Othello A Tragic Hero discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.

The famous Philosopher, Aristotle, explored what exactly is a tragic hero; he said, in his own words, “A man doesn’t become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall. ” (1). Also, a man should have nobility from birth, as Aristotle says, yet Othello slowly climbed the ladder of hierarchy enabling him to stable that status as the Moor (Venetian Moor) yet he sets himself as a tragic hero because he isn’t going to accepted into society due to his colour.

Was his colour a conceit in a way, showing an anticlimax, foreshadowing the downfall of his status, making it less tragic? This is a mere criticism.

Aristotle’s theories are intriguing, and I will be discussing these in detail later on in the essay.

Another characteristic of a tragic hero is that the hero’s story must appeal to emotions. Clearly we are shown this in the first scene in act 1 where Shakespeare uses sibilance to characterise the main characters, Iago and Othello, in the play. The use of the word “his” automatically spits the word out in distaste. The word ‘his’ is degrading for the moor, but the sibilance and the iambic pentameter in the sentence “wears out his time, much like his master’s ass” emphatically forces the ‘his’ out scornfully.

Get quality help now
Dr. Karlyna PhD

Proficient in: Hero

4.7 (235)

“ Amazing writer! I am really satisfied with her work. An excellent price as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Was Othello A Tragic Hero

The use of the article ‘the’ in ‘the moor’ also shows distaste as they can’t even say the name. The fact that Iago’s first words were “S’blood” gives us a vain, vivid spitting image and the vulgar language used such as “the moor” debase him This is an effective use of pathos as it appeals to our emotions towards Othello; this distaste helps us with not looking at the perspective, or the distorted view, of how Iago sees things. Aristotle’s point about appealing to emotions was correct and this is a sign of Othello being presented as a tragic hero.

Iago is an allegory for the reoccurring fatal flaw in this act the fatal flaw is merely manipulation. Even though little manipulation is shown here, it is very intense. In act 1, scene two, Iago says that Roderigo ‘prated and spoke such scurvy persuading ‘the moor’ to get angry at Roderigo, yet the dramatic irony very much lies beneath these words as we know that Iago presents a fai? ade or is, in other words, a representation of Janus (two faced) because Iago says, in scene 1, that he will follow ‘him to serve my turn on him’ yet he goes against Roderigo now by saying that Roderigo spoke “such scurvy”.

This fatal flow is merely a fai? ade within Iago, which merely hides corruption from within, and Iago, of course, is a figure of corruption Othello is merely a tragic hero in some sense as he fell for the wrong person in terms of fraternal (male) bonds for help. This is a major fatal flaw as it showed how male companionship collapsed the foundation and made Othello a ‘dawn fall’ . The quote ‘an old black ram is tupping your white ewe’ can be an extended metaphor for the predatory nature of the world.

Iago says that he will “wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at, I am not what I am” which is a denotation in an interpretive sense that a crow is a symbol of society and society is predatory and everything is deceptive. This dramatic irony is there to show the audience the fatal flaw in Othello believing Iago. Iago’s predatory nature on Othello can spark off other events such as paranoia which is shortly developed after Othello being calm for so long it isn’t bearable so paranoia sneaks in. His calmness is shown through his first words of “‘Tis better as it is”, giving a very patient approach to the situation.

Yet, we expect this to juxtapose highly towards the end of the play as we see Iago can do anything to corrupt psychological states of people by manipulation and even greater, maybe paranoia. One critic has criticised the statement that Othello is presented as a tragic hero because ‘Othello is overly aware of his nobility’ (2). The critic, Leavis, says that ‘Eloquence is a form of arrogance’. In act 1, scene 2, Othello’s first words are quite subtly yet Eloquent ‘Tis better as it is’. Can we, as readers, interpret this as some form of arrogance? In my opinion, the subtlety of the words can confine arrogance.

Leavis is very clever in making this statement, and his statement can say Othello is not presented as a tragic hero. A sense of “it was doomed before the start” is shown in Act 1, scene 3, where Desdemona has her very first words and Othello and herself proclaim love to each other. The iambic pentameter is very significant and Shakespeare very cleverly used it to show love in the blank verse. Nearly all are blank verses (no rhyme but with an iambic pentameter) yet some, for example, what Desdemona says: “The rites for which I love him are bereft me” breaks the iambic pentameter.

This may show corruption in love or the fact that love is a concept which can cause annihilation but this is merely done to show that Othello has brought it on himself so can be a tragic hero. The audience here, have a sense of urgency to relief themselves (catharsis – another trait of a hero being a tragic hero). The repetition of “fill your purse with money” which Iago says to Roderigo makes it as though life is a stage and that all our strings are being pulled by the creator. This repetition is highly manipulative as it says “therefore make money”.

Though, this manipulation isn’t a flaw for Roderigo, as his status is nothing compared to Othello, yet later on in the acts, Othello is slowly driven into paranoia by the vehicle Iago is driving and causing hamartia (fatal flaw). The socio-historical context with Macbeths is important as they interlink and you can come to a conclusion about both of them. From both, Othello and Macbeth, it shows Shakespeare is interested in deception; at the start of Macbeth, the tragic hero is characterised by Iago, and at the start of Macbeth by the witches.

It seems as though Shakespeare is allowing us too see different perceptions, through women (witches) and men (Iago and roderigo). Lady Macbeth is almost a mirror image of Iago in a distorted way as they both drive to manipulate; Lady Macbeth manipulated Macbeth to go kill the king. Shakespeare questions whether we should break the convention of “men before women” or not, as both are corrupted and delusional and both play a part in the tragedy of the “tragic hero”

Cite this page

Is Othello A Tragic Hero. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Is Othello A Tragic Hero
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7