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The Manipulation of Othello by Rick Lindroos William Shakespeares Othello presents all of the elements of a great tragedy according to Aristotles definition A tragedy is the imitation in dramatic form of an action that is serious and complete with incidents arousing pity and fear wherewith it effects a catharsis of such emotions Poetics 14 He also adds The language used is pleasurable and throughout appropriate to the situation in which it is used The central features of the Aristotelian archetype are manifested in General Othellos character Although Othello is great he is not perfect He has a tragic flaw hubris excessive pride and passion and hamartia some error which lead to his downfall However Othellos misfortune is not wholly deserved His punishment exceeds the crime keeping him admirable in the theatergoers eyes Before Othellos tragic flaw results in his unfortunate death he has increased awareness and gained self-knowledge or as Aristotle describes it has experienced a discovery Poetics 15 All of this produces a catharsis or emotional release at the end of the play A tragedy when well performed does not leave an audience in a state of depression but creates a shared common experience What causes Othellos downfall Some critics claim that Othellos tragic flaw is his jealousy while others insist that jealousy is not part of his character that the emotion takes over only when Iago pushes him to the brink of insanity Evidence in the play supports the notion of insanity Othello doesnt show himself to be jealous early in the play It is not until Othello is manipulated by Iagos skillful lies that he is forced to confront his jealousy and mistrust His love and trust of Iago serve to prove his gullibility Jealousy and self-doubt poison his sensibilities and innocence and the realization of his blind trust leads to his sorrowful end As with most of Shakespeares tragic heroes Othello possesses all the virtues prescribed for the character
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