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Othello as a Tragic Hero William Shakespeares famous tragedy Othello the Moor of Venice c1604 as reprinted in Laurence Perrine and Thomas R Arp Literature Structure Sound and Sense 6th ed Fort Worth Harcourt 19931060-1148 is arguably one of the finest if not the finest tragedies in the literary history of Western civilization This paper discusses Othello as a tragic hero and compares him to the great Aristotles concept of what a tragic hero actually is First we need to understand the characteristics of a so-called tragic hero as defined by the Greek critic Aristotle He indicates that a tragic hero must have these characteristics 1 Be a nobleman prince or person of high estate 2 Have a tragic flaw and a weakness in judgment and 3 Fall from high to low estate Hubele Using the Aristotle criteria we can easily classify Othello the Moor as a tragic hero At the time it was common practice for the Italian city-states to have a foreigner with proven military capabilities serving as the head of their Army Othello an African Moor of noble birth is just such a character and held the highest ranking military position as Governor-General of Cyprus The city of Cyprus was a city-state in the great state of Venice His title alone Governor-General exudes an air of nobility confidence and strength It defines someone who is held in tremendously high esteem by the people of Venice During Act 1 Scene 3 the Duke and a few Senators are discussing issues around a table when Othello enters the room Its clear that Othello is held in high esteem when as he enters one of the senators states Here comes Barbantio and the valiant Moor47 Othellos confidence in himself another of his positive attributes is clearly portrayed as he defends himself and his recent marriage to Desdemona the daughter of the Venetian Senator
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