Othello is one of the most famous playswritten by Shakespeare. It is a tragic play that considers with domestictragedy. The play begins in Venice which is the great center of civilizationand order, though the majority of the story set in Cyprus.
The tragedy has atragic hero with a tragic flaw, and this tragedy related to marriage love inwhich sexual desire plays an important role. During the Renaissance, the upperclasses and social groups of the contemporary society use marriage as aneconomic and political transaction between families when love isinconsiderable. It also included debates about choice, defying authority andconsiders of race and class that led to tragic ends.
The marriage of Othelloand Desdemona was for love and sexual desire which against the social normsbecause the hero comes from a different race. In this way, it can be fragilebecause of their internal weakness or external pressure. At one stage love betweenOthello and Desdemona met with jealousy, treachery and finally death. Anotherpoint is, General Othello’s trusted friend Iago plots the downfall of severalcharacters including the hero, as a result of jealousy and revenge. So, overthe whole essay, we will discuss how Bradley and Levis evaluate Othello as atragic hero and the other characters of the play, how they involve with atragic end. In Othello,Othello is a great general and Iago is his most trusted officer. Othello isknown as a noble Moor and has attained the highest military position and Iagois also known as noble-minded man.
He has earned himself the epithet of ‘honest’. But the honest Iago becomes the mortal enemyof the noble Othello. His evil character uncovers because of two reasons-Firstly, the promotion of Cassio to the position of lieutenant and secondly,the marriage of Othello and Desdemona. Another point is, Iago believes thatOthello is only a Moor and he doesn’t worth to be a general in Venice becauseof his race and color. Iago also provokes Roderigo easily to downfall Othellobecause he loves Desdemona. So, both Iago and Roderigo want to get revenge fromOthello. Iago starts to make a plan to push on Othello to remove Cassio fromhis new position and disturb their marriage. Rodrigo and Iago both depend oneach other to make their conspiracy successful.
Iago is a central character whohas extra ………ordinary power to convince people (Jamieson, 2017). From the beginning of the play, Iago’scharacter is a combination with hatred and jealousy. His language is quitecomplex and confusing. He says- “Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago: Infollowing him I follow but myself-Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty”that means he doesn’t respect his superior and he is planning to destroyOthello’s life for his own purpose (Pacheco, Anita and Johnson, David, 2012).
Then he says-“I amnot what I am” which reflects his underlying evil character and revengevengeance (Pacheco, Anita and Johnson, David, 2012).His speech reflects his mysterious personality and unclear intentions give usan idea about his character and announce the kind of person he is a ‘manipulator’. Iago always thinks how to destroyOthello and break their marriage. Because of Othello’s trusting manner, Iagoeasily deceives Othello.
Iago begins manipulation with Othello by placing theidea of Desdemona having affair with Cassio but he doesn’t explain it clearly.He also points out that she betray with his father, therefore, she can betraywith Othello too. On the other hand, Othello believed him because he hasreputation for honesty, reliability and direct speaking. As Othello believesIago so that he shares his everything with Iago but self-centered Iago use hisweakness as a weapon. Both Iago and Roderigo plot to bring an end to Othelloand Desdemona’s marriage by saying Brabantio (Desdemona’s father) that Othellokidnaped her daughter and their mission is successful. Hence, the relationship between Roderigo and Iago is probablysomewhat close.
Iago uses Roderigo and his money forthe sake of achieving his own goals. Though Iago is the main hero of theconspiracy, he uses formal pronouns to address Roderigo which proves that Iago needsRoderigo’s money. It is clear that he doesn’t see Roderigo as his friend but asa tool to make his plot successful. But foolish Roderigo believes Iago as his well-wisherand follows his advice. Iago also beware Roderigo that Cassio will take Desdemona with him toMauritania but it was totally a flam (Anon., n.d.
) . When most of the damage alreadydone, Roderigo realizes that he has been misled by empty promises. Moreover, Iagomanipulates Cassio because he grabs the position Iago deserve. Iago’s jealousytoward the fact that Cassio becomes a lieutenant, make it easy to betray withhim. Iago talks toCassio as if they are on the same side when he was really only manipulatinghim.
For example- During Othello and Desdemona’s wedding celebration Iagoencourages Cassio to drink alcohol, manage Roderigo to provoke Cassio into a fightwhen he was drunk. When Othello question Iago about the fight, he tells Othellothat he tries to break up the fight, but really Iago was behind the wholeoutbreak. In this way, he proves to allthat Cassio drinks all the time and he is not really worthy of his position.Even when Cassio demoted, Iago assumes him that he can easily get backOthello’s belief by talking Othello’s wife Desdemona because she is only onewho can change Othello’s mind. Iago knows that it will be seen by all especiallyOthello. Iago is not as he seems his good is bad for others, people, again andagain rely on him, and he betrays with them. Most of the character in Othellofooled by Iago’s manipulative character.
At the beginning of the play, itseems that Iago has been loyal to Othello but he did it just to extend the wayof his conspiracy. It is impossible to change himself suddenly, mainly thisevil man is never loyal to Othello. Hence, Iago is driven by his puredestructive wickedness and there are several reasons which elicit his evilcharacters. First of all, Iago deserves the promotion to be lieutenant insteadof Cassio. Secondly, he believes that Othello is a ”Moor” and he won’t begeneral in Venice because of his color and race. That means Iago wants thepower and respect Othello has. Thirdly, Iago is jealous of Othello’s marriagewith senator’s daughter Desdemona, which gives him more power and beautifulwife (Anon., 2015).
Moreover, Othello’ssuccess in internal and external life makes Iago crazy and he starts to makethe plot to push on Othello to remove Cassio from his new position and disturbhis marriage from Desdemona. Thus, Iago tried to humiliated and disgraced Othelloin every sphere of his life. Because of his trusting manner, he accepts Iago’sinsinuations. Since Othello leads a life free of racial discrimination so laterhe couldn’t accept those ominous behaviors.
Therefore, he doesn’t feel securewith himself because of his color in the racist society. He is afraid ofDesdemona after Iago convince him that Desdemona has been unfaithful, she wouldeventually love another man because he is older than her. Moreover, hisjealousy about his wife tends him to kill his beloved wife in his own bed andthen he also killed himself which makes the play a kind of domestic tragedy. Oneof the main factors of Othello’s downfall is his trusting nature and he onlysees the good in people. His lack of confidence and trusting nature combinedwith self-doubting personality played the key role in his downfall, and Iagojust helps to reinforce these feelings. It is clear that, Othello’s own insecurity that gives Iago theopportunity to work on his feelings.
Although Iago is responsible for Othello’s death in some cases, Othellohimself is subject to his death. The raceis an important element in Othello. Othello is considered both insiderand outsider in Venetian society. According to the Venetian law, the Venetianarmy general required to be a foreigner. Because of his valor, he achievesadmiration from the Duke, the Senate and many Venetian citizens. On the otherhand, he also has been neglected for his color and race.
For example- officerIago always disrespects his army superior Othello because he is a Moor. Iagorefers his superior “Moorship” instead of his “worship” which highlights hisabusive manner. He also humiliated by Desdemona’s father due to his race. So itis clear that in some cases, Iago’s behavior is the reflection of Venetianprejudices and intolerance towards Othello. In thetwentieth century some literary critics such as F.R Leavis and A.C Bradley consideredsome of the key scenes that enable us to develop our opinion and help us to judgethe action in the play.
Leavis focus on ”temptation scence” which is helpfulsince it is a turning point of the action. He believes that Othello is”anti-Othello” not a hero and he is responsible for his downfall. He alsosuggests that Iago is not “external evil” that he is not wholly responsible forthe downfall of the hero. Othello muses that Desdemona does not love himanymore maybe because of his race, color, age or lack of experience with women.Leavis sees him as self-dramatizer who allow Iago to control his thought andlife because of his inadequate self-confidence. Othello’s irrational thinkingwith his extravagant anger and jealousy push him to tragic end.
On the otherhand, A.C. Bradley sees Othello as “pro-Othello” a hero. He condemns thesociety and Iago because they change noble Othello to a monster. Bradleysympathies to Othello because the racist Venetian society and devilish Iagomake him lose his sense of nobility. In a word both of them agreed that Iago’s devilishplot that ruined the hero’s nobility. Iago isconsidered as a most sinister villain because he betrays with Othello as wellas maintaining his reputation and honesty. In my opinion, Othello is a herobecause he overcomes many ups and downs during his life until he becomes ageneral in the Venetian army, though Iago plays a principal role in the play.
The devil Iago and a large part of Venetian society push him to destruction.Othello doesn’t kill him, but he killed the alien inside him. Moreover, theissue of race and gender within the play makes it a real tragedy. Works Cited Anon.
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