Othello is one of the most famous plays
written by Shakespeare. It is a tragic play that considers with domestic
tragedy. The play begins in Venice which is the great center of civilization
and order, though the majority of the story set in Cyprus. The tragedy has a
tragic hero with a tragic flaw, and this tragedy related to marriage love in
which sexual desire plays an important role. During the Renaissance, the upper
classes and social groups of the contemporary society use marriage as an
economic and political transaction between families when love is
inconsiderable. It also included debates about choice, defying authority and
considers of race and class that led to tragic ends. The marriage of Othello
and Desdemona was for love and sexual desire which against the social norms
because the hero comes from a different race. In this way, it can be fragile
because of their internal weakness or external pressure. At one stage love between
Othello and Desdemona met with jealousy, treachery and finally death. Another
point is, General Othello’s trusted friend Iago plots the downfall of several
characters including the hero, as a result of jealousy and revenge. So, over
the whole essay, we will discuss how Bradley and Levis evaluate Othello as a
tragic hero and the other characters of the play, how they involve with a
tragic end.

 

            In Othello,
Othello is a great general and Iago is his most trusted officer. Othello is
known as a noble Moor and has attained the highest military position and Iago
is also known as noble-minded man. He has earned himself the epithet of ‘honest’. But the honest Iago becomes the mortal enemy
of 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 that
Othello is only a Moor and he doesn’t worth to be a general in Venice because
of his race and color. Iago also provokes Roderigo easily to downfall Othello
because he loves Desdemona. So, both Iago and Roderigo want to get revenge from
Othello. Iago starts to make a plan to push on Othello to remove Cassio from
his new position and disturb their marriage. Rodrigo and Iago both depend on
each other to make their conspiracy successful. Iago is a central character who
has extra ………ordinary power to convince people (Jamieson, 2017). From the beginning of the play, Iago’s
character is a combination with hatred and jealousy. His language is quite
complex and confusing. He says- “Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago: In
following 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 destroy
Othello’s life for his own purpose (Pacheco, Anita and Johnson, David, 2012). Then he says-“I am
not what I am” which reflects his underlying evil character and revenge
vengeance (Pacheco, Anita and Johnson,
David, 2012).
His speech reflects his mysterious personality and unclear intentions give us
an idea about his character and announce the kind of person he is a ‘manipulator’.

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            Iago always thinks how to destroy
Othello and break their marriage. Because of Othello’s trusting manner, Iago
easily deceives Othello. Iago begins manipulation with Othello by placing the
idea 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 betray
with Othello too. On the other hand, Othello believed him because he has
reputation for honesty, reliability and direct speaking. As Othello believes
Iago so that he shares his everything with Iago but self-centered Iago use his
weakness as a weapon. Both Iago and Roderigo plot to bring an end to Othello
and Desdemona’s marriage by saying Brabantio (Desdemona’s father) that Othello
kidnaped her daughter and their mission is successful. Hence, the relationship between Roderigo and Iago is probably
somewhat close. Iago uses Roderigo and his money for
the sake of achieving his own goals. Though Iago is the main hero of the
conspiracy, he uses formal pronouns to address Roderigo which proves that Iago needs
Roderigo’s money. It is clear that he doesn’t see Roderigo as his friend but as
a tool to make his plot successful. But foolish Roderigo believes Iago as his well-wisher
and follows his advice. Iago also beware Roderigo that Cassio will take Desdemona with him to
Mauritania but it was totally a flam (Anon., n.d.) . When most of the damage already
done, Roderigo realizes that he has been misled by empty promises. Moreover, Iago
manipulates Cassio because he grabs the position Iago deserve. Iago’s jealousy
toward the fact that Cassio becomes a lieutenant, make it easy to betray with
him. Iago talks to
Cassio as if they are on the same side when he was really only manipulating
him. For example- During Othello and Desdemona’s wedding celebration Iago
encourages Cassio to drink alcohol, manage Roderigo to provoke Cassio into a fight
when he was drunk. When Othello question Iago about the fight, he tells Othello
that he tries to break up the fight, but really Iago was behind the whole
outbreak.  In this way, he proves to all
that 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 back
Othello’s belief by talking Othello’s wife Desdemona because she is only one
who can change Othello’s mind. Iago knows that it will be seen by all especially
Othello. Iago is not as he seems his good is bad for others, people, again and
again rely on him, and he betrays with them. Most of the character in Othello
fooled by Iago’s manipulative character.

            At the beginning of the play, it
seems that Iago has been loyal to Othello but he did it just to extend the way
of his conspiracy. It is impossible to change himself suddenly, mainly this
evil man is never loyal to Othello. Hence, Iago is driven by his pure
destructive wickedness and there are several reasons which elicit his evil
characters. First of all, Iago deserves the promotion to be lieutenant instead
of Cassio. Secondly, he believes that Othello is a ”Moor” and he won’t be
general in Venice because of his color and race. That means Iago wants the
power and respect Othello has. Thirdly, Iago is jealous of Othello’s marriage
with senator’s daughter Desdemona, which gives him more power and beautiful
wife (Anon., 2015). Moreover, Othello’s
success in internal and external life makes Iago crazy and he starts to make
the plot to push on Othello to remove Cassio from his new position and disturb
his marriage from Desdemona. Thus, Iago tried to humiliated and disgraced Othello
in every sphere of his life. Because of his trusting manner, he accepts Iago’s
insinuations. Since Othello leads a life free of racial discrimination so later
he couldn’t accept those ominous behaviors. Therefore, he doesn’t feel secure
with himself because of his color in the racist society. He is afraid of
Desdemona after Iago convince him that Desdemona has been unfaithful, she would
eventually love another man because he is older than her. Moreover, his
jealousy about his wife tends him to kill his beloved wife in his own bed and
then he also killed himself which makes the play a kind of domestic tragedy. One
of the main factors of Othello’s downfall is his trusting nature and he only
sees the good in people. His lack of confidence and trusting nature combined
with self-doubting personality played the key role in his downfall, and Iago
just helps to reinforce these feelings. It is clear that, Othello’s own insecurity that gives Iago the
opportunity to work on his feelings.  Although Iago is responsible for Othello’s death in some cases, Othello
himself is subject to his death.

            The race
is an important element in Othello. Othello is considered both insider
and outsider in Venetian society. According to the Venetian law, the Venetian
army general required to be a foreigner. Because of his valor, he achieves
admiration from the Duke, the Senate and many Venetian citizens. On the other
hand, he also has been neglected for his color and race. For example- officer
Iago always disrespects his army superior Othello because he is a Moor. Iago
refers his superior “Moorship” instead of his “worship” which highlights his
abusive manner. He also humiliated by Desdemona’s father due to his race. So it
is clear that in some cases, Iago’s behavior is the reflection of Venetian
prejudices and intolerance towards Othello.

            In the
twentieth century some literary critics such as F.R Leavis and A.C Bradley considered
some of the key scenes that enable us to develop our opinion and help us to judge
the action in the play. Leavis focus on ”temptation scence” which is helpful
since 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 also
suggests that Iago is not “external evil” that he is not wholly responsible for
the downfall of the hero. Othello muses that Desdemona does not love him
anymore 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 and
life because of his inadequate self-confidence. Othello’s irrational thinking
with his extravagant anger and jealousy push him to tragic end. On the other
hand, A.C. Bradley sees Othello as “pro-Othello” a hero. He condemns the
society and Iago because they change noble Othello to a monster. Bradley
sympathies to Othello because the racist Venetian society and devilish Iago
make him lose his sense of nobility. In a word both of them agreed that Iago’s devilish
plot that ruined the hero’s nobility.

            Iago is
considered as a most sinister villain because he betrays with Othello as well
as maintaining his reputation and honesty. In my opinion, Othello is a hero
because he overcomes many ups and downs during his life until he becomes a
general 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, the
issue of race and gender within the play makes it a real tragedy.

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