Archetype In Othello

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A lot of classic literature from the ancients through Shakespeare focuses on the concept of the tragic hero. First defined in the plays of the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare also made liberal use of the formula in a number of his plays. In order to understand what is meant by the tragic hero, it is necessary to look into the elements of the archetype that was first defined by Aristotle. This ancient Greek scholar studied a number of classic texts of his own time and earlier and began to identify some common elements. He eventually identified six major elements required to construct the story of a tragic hero. Within this study, Aristotle said a tragic hero must have three essential character traits which included a noble stature, excessive pride…show more content…
Generally speaking, the concept of a hero refers to any character that embodies social concepts of what is good and/or noble in the human race (Vest, 2002). Othello stands out as an example of a hero since he has worked very hard to raise himself from the pits of slavery as a black man in Venice to become the General of the Venetian ships. This history is revealed when he announces, “I fetch my life and being / From men of royal siege [rank]; and my demerits [deserts] / May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune / As this that I have reached [are equal to]” (21-23). In keeping with the concept of a hero, though, Othello doesn’t do a lot of bragging about his own achievements. This is left for others to do for him, such as when the Duke is seen to call upon Othello at times of great need: “Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you / Against the general enemy Ottoman” (48-49). Othello’s nobility doesn’t rest just on the surface level of an attained position, but is also demonstrated through his own moral judgment in action. This part of his character emerges when he is faced with Desdemona’s angry father and his mob of supporters: “Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them / Good signior, you shall more command with years / Than with your weapons” (59-61). Othello’s inner nobility shines through while he manages both to defend…show more content…
Miller (2004) suggests that although Iago is usually interpreted as a source of evil, creating trouble out of a simple sense of boredom, Iago is actually dealing with many of the same insecurities he pulls out of Othello. “Motivated by the same thing – suspicion of infidelity – Othello commits nearly the same crimes, yet the audience feels sorry for only him, and not Iago … if one looks deeper into his [Iago’s] motives, it is apparent that he is no less of a sympathetic character than is Othello” (Miller, 2004). Given this shared experience, it is easier to understand how Othello might give Iago such sympathy. This also serves as testament to the justifiable nature of Othello’s pride in his ability to love since he is able to see something in Iago that millions of people who have studied the play since have missed. A close study of Iago also shows how Othello’s love for him has created a change in this character too, allowing him to realize in the end that his own downfall is the result of his own actions. This makes him a lesser, or more common, tragic hero. His realization is revealed in his statement regarding Cassio, “He hath a daily beauty in his life / That makes me ugly” (V, i, 19-20). This statement expresses a sentiment that Iago couldn’t have imagined earlier in the play. “How impossible such an attitude would be to the scornful Iago of

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