Othello the human tragedy

The hero would struggle against overwhelming fate, and his defeat would be so noble that he wins the moral victory over the forces that destroy him. A tragedy evoked pity and terror in the audience; it was a catharsis, or washing clean of the soul, which left the spectator trembling but purified. Aristotle proposed the tragic unities of Place, Time, and Action, that is, the whole tragedy would take place in a single location, for example a house or a city square this included messengers who came in from elsewhereit would happen during the course of one day including speeches about events which had happened in the pastand it would be a single story, without sub- plots. Compared with these strict rules, Shakespeare's tragedy is a more relaxed genre, but Othello much more than, for example, the sprawling Hamlet, observes the spirit of Aristotle.

Othello the human tragedy

There is practically no doubt that Othello was the tragedy written next after Hamlet. Such external evidence as we possess points to this conclusion, and it is confirmed by similarities of style, diction and versification, and also by the fact that ideas and phrases of the earlier play are echoed in the later.

The heroes of Othello the human tragedy two plays are doubtless extremely unlike, so unlike that each could have dealt without much difficulty with the situation which proved fatal to the other; but still each Othello the human tragedy a man exceptionally noble and trustful, and each endures the shock of a terrible disillusionment.

This theme is treated by Shakespeare for the first time in Hamlet, for the second in Hamlet. It recurs with modifications in King Lear, and it probably formed the attraction which drew Shakespeare to refashion in part another writer's tragedy of Timon.

These four dramas may so far be grouped together in distinction from the remaining tragedies. But in point of substance, and, in certain respects, in point of style, the unlikeness of Othello to Hamlet is much greater than the likeness, and the later play belongs decidedly to one group with its successors.

We have seen that, like them, it is a tragedy of passion, a description inapplicable to Julius Caesar or Hamlet. And with this change goes another, an enlargement in the stature of the hero. There is in most of the later heroes something colossal, something which reminds us of Michael Angelo's figures.

They are not merely exceptional men, they are huge men; as it were, survivors of the heroic age living in a later and smaller world.

We do not receive this impression from Romeo or Brutus or Hamlet, nor did it lie in Shakespeare's design to allow more than touches of this trait to Julius Caesar himself; but it is strongly marked in Lear and Coriolanus, and quite distinct in Macbeth and even in Antony.

Othello is the first of these men, a being essentially large and grand, towering above his fellows, holding a volume of force which in repose ensures preeminence without an effort, and in commotion reminds us rather of the fury of the elements than of the tumult of common human passion.

Othello the human tragedy

What is the distinctive impression that it leaves? Of all Shakespeare's tragedies, I would answer, not even excepting King Lear, Othello is the most painfully exciting and the most terrible. From the moment when the temptation of the hero begins, the reader's heart and mind are held in a vice, experiencing the extremes of pity and fear, sympathy and repulsion, sickening hope and dreadful expectation.

Evil is displayed before him, not indeed with the profusion found in King Lear, but forming, as it were, the soul of a single character, and united with an intellectual superiority so great that he watches its advance fascinated and appalled. He sees it, in itself almost irresistible, aided at every step by fortunate accidents and the innocent mistakes of its victims.

He seems to breathe an atmosphere as fateful as that of King Lear, but more confined and oppressive, the darkness not of night but of a close-shut murderous room. His imagination is excited to intense activity, but it is the activity of concentration rather than dilation.

I will not dwell now on aspects of the play which modify this impression, and I reserve for later discussion one of its principal sources, the character of Iago. But if we glance at some of its other sources, we shall find at the same time certain distinguishing characteristics of Othello.

Othello is not only the most masterly of the tragedies in point of construction, but its method of construction is unusual. And this method, by which the conflict begins late, and advances without appreciable pause and with accelerating speed to the catastrophe, is a main cause of the painful tension just described.

To this may be added that, after the conflict has begun, there is very little relief by way of the ridiculous. Henceforward at any rate Iago's humour never raises a smile. The clown is a poor one; we hardly attend to him and quickly forget him; I believe most readers of Shakespeare, if asked whether there is a clown in Othello, would answer No.

Such a passion as ambition, however terrible its results, is not itself ignoble; if we separate it in thought from the conditions which make it guilty, it does not appear despicable; it is not a kind of suffering, its nature is active; and therefore we can watch its course without shrinking.

But jealousy, and especially sexual jealousy, brings with it a sense of shame and humiliation. For this reason it is generally hidden; if we perceive it we ourselves are ashamed and turn our eyes away; and when it is not hidden it commonly stirs contempt as well as pity.

Nor is this all. Such jealousy as Othello's converts human nature into chaos, and liberates the beast in man; and it does this in relation to one of the most intense and also the most ideal of human feelings. What spectacle can be more painful than that of this feeling turned into a tortured mixture of longing and loathing, the 'golden purity' of passion split by poison into fragments, the animal in man forcing itself into his consciousness in naked grossness, and he writhing before it but powerless to deny it entrance, gasping inarticulate images of pollution, and finding relief only in a bestial thirst for blood?

This is what we have to witness in one who was indeed 'great of heart' and no less pure and tender than he was great. And this, with what it leads to, the blow to Desdemona, and the scene where she is treated as the inmate of a brothel, a scene far more painful than the murder scene, is another cause of the special effect of this tragedy.

I mean the suffering of Desdemona. This is, unless I mistake, the most nearly intolerable spectacle that Shakespeare offers us. For one thing, it is mere suffering; and, ceteris paribus, that is much worse to witness than suffering that issues in action.

Desdemona is helplessly passive.Lecture on Othello - Play Construction and the Suffering and Murder of Desdemona. From Shakespearean Tragedy by A. C. Bradley.

London: MacMillan and Co., There is practically no doubt that Othello was the tragedy written next after attheheels.com external evidence as we possess points to this conclusion, and it is confirmed by similarities of . Othello is a tragedy about human nature and relationships.

One critic has written that the love of Othello and Desdemona is like the love of Adam and Eve before and after the fall (Barthelemy, Introduction Critical Essays 12). The story of an African general in the Venetian army who is tricked into suspecting his wife of adultery, Othello is a tragedy of sexual jealousy.

First performed around , the play is also a pioneering exploration of racial prejudice. Othello: The Tragedy of an Aristotelian Tragic Hero Essay Words 7 Pages Shakespeare's play, “Othello, the Moor of Venice,” is a powerful example of a tragedy and it’s main character, Othello, is an excellent illustration of what Aristotle constitutes as a tragic hero.

Simpson case carries theme of human tragedy. Othello won the heart of Desdemona, a woman of gentle birth who was considered one of the most beautiful and virtuous in the land.

But jealousy.

Popular Topics

Enter OTHELLO, IAGO, and Attendants with torches IAGO Though in the trade of war I have slain men, Of human dealings. If I do prove her haggard, Though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings, I'ld whistle her off and let her down the wind, To pray at fortune.

Haply, for I am black.

The Tragedy of Othello is a Story Driven by Human Weakness by Gareth Turner on Prezi