Discuss the Downfall of Othello William Shakespeare



For Aristotle a tragedy is to be serious having dignity and a protagonist of high esteem that experiences a reversal of fortune. This reversal of fortune must be caused by the tragic hero's hamartia, a mistake. We see a great character, Othello, rising up in life and eventually bringing about his own downfall expressed in his own words of dismay: "Where should Othello go?" According to Aristotle, "The change to bad fortune which he undergoes is not due to any moral defect or flaw, but a mistake of some kind” like Othello's killing of his wife is based upon error of judgment and plotting by Iago. This causes pity and fear within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis, emotional cleansing or healing for the audience; this is achieved through their experience of pity and fear in response to the suffering of the character(s) in the drama.

A tragic hero has to be virtuous and "a morally blameless man. Othello is a moor, a black but honorable man, in Denmark. He is respected for his courageous and brave service to the army. Othello is appointed as a general in the army. We don't find any moral flaw or defect in his character. Desdemona, the daughter of a senator, is in love with him despite the fact that he is black. They even elope and marry. It makes us appreciate his character. And his fall would cause a feeling of pity and fear among the audience. This merits him the standards of a tragic hero. The fall of Othello would be of high importance because it involves royal blood and may resultantly influence masses in general.

Iago is an ensign, denied promotion by Othello, is jealous of the promotion of his junior soldier. He wishes to avenge at Othello. He plots against Othello and his wife. In the Turk war, Othello takes his wife along. Iago, tricks Othello into believing that his wife is being unfaithful to him. On the other hand, Desdemona is truly in love with him; she even accompanies him in the war out of love saying "That I did love the Moor to live with him and my heart's subdued even to the very quality of my lord." Othello, though a remarkable man indeed, begins to think that his wife does not love him in real because he is black. And no woman would love a blank man. With this state of mind and inner tormenting, he ends up killing his wife. But he later realizes that it was a plot hatched by Iago out of jealousy. Audience is shocked and there is a feeling of fear and pity for poor Othello.

The hero suffers from some tragic error or hamartia which is primarily responsible for his downfall. Iago planned to avenge his jealousy at Othello by misleading him; however, it is an rror of judgment on the part of Othello. She is, indeed, Othello's fair warrior, and he is happiest when he has her by his side in the midst of military conflict or business. He gets trapped. But that error is big enough to decipher his entire career and bring his downfall. It might have been his fate to slay his wife but it was brought about by his own actions and thoughts. It was his free will, though he does so in oblivion of the true state of things. Misunderstanding was his fault.

The audience is filled with catharsis when Othello, a splendid lover and a remarkable general, has come to know the truth only after his wife has been slayed by himself. The, he kills himself. This is the height of pity and awe. There is no option but to weep over the loss. Catharsis helps purging of excessive emotions from a person. By watching the tragedy and feeling the strong emotions of fear and pity on behalf of the characters on stage, the spectator experiences a kind of cleansing of the soul. Metaphorical catharsis from watching tragedy gave the spectators a shared experience that bound them closer together. In other works, Aristotle locates the essence of the self in perception; by sharing perception or perceiving the same things, the spectators develop a sort of common identity.

The plot of the play is well structured with underlying irony and suspense that prevails till the last lines of the play. Desdemona wanted a loving and caring husband which she thought she eventually found. She remained true to him till her last breathe. But it is the irony of fate that he was misled by the jealousy prevailing in his surrounding and contented only at slaying his own wife. Othello chooses an immoral act of slaying his wife. And ironically, slaying his wife proves the worst error on his part. Though he later repents but it is of no use now. There is suspense whether the villain be successful in bringing about the downfall of the love couple. The use of language suits the theme of the play. The reader remains interested in the awful story till the very tragic fall of the hero.



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