Othello: Tragic Hero Othello: The Aristotelian tragedy of the Moor of Venice Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak Of one that loved not wisely but too well; Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought Perplex'd in the extreme; of one whose hand, Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away Richer than all his tribe...(V.2).
According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his "Poetics," a great tragedy provokes both pity and terror in the hearts of the viewer.
Othello's background and his intertwining of his self-esteem with his military position also makes it difficult for him to engage in a dialogue Desdemona through any language other than violence -- Othello strikes his wife, rather than verbally confronts her with why he expects her of adultery with Cassio.
If Othello were able to actually broach the subject with Desdemona and talk to her as an equal, then the tragedy might have a different ending.
Othello is unable to understand the subtle nature of love and emotional manipulation -- even to his dying breath he says he is not jealous.
Yet because of his commendable, military service and valor, he is able to win Desdemona and win the respect of the white city leaders who allow him to marry her, despite the resistance of her father.The ability to overcome racism means that Othello's psychological uniqueness is stressed, and his greatness which sets him apart from others and makes him desirable in a way that transcends race.His greatness is so overpowering that the leaders of Venice joke that they would be wooed by his stories, even if they are initially predisposed to believe Desdemona's father."Othello...essentially large and grand, towering above his fellows, holding a volume of force which in repose ensures pre-eminence without an effort, and in commotion reminds us rather of the fury of the elements than of the tumult of common human passion" (Bradley 176).Given this greatness of action and mind, why does Othello behave so foolishly and why is he so easily hoodwinked by Iago?The legacy of racism he has overcome is also evident in Othello's stories, with which he wooed Desdemona.They are stories of being sold into slavery as well as of fantastic sights, travels, and battles."Even now, now, very now, an old black ram/Is topping your white ewe" (I.1).This shows the racism that Othello has had to overcome his entire life and makes 'the Moor' (as he is called) hypersensitive to insults.Othello admits his limited experience in personal and feminine affairs early on in the play: "For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,/Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used / Their dearest action in the tented field" (I.3).Again, this manifests the classic paradox of tragedy, that what makes the tragic hero great also proves his undoing.