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An Analysis of a Tragic Hero in Othello and Macbeth

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Question 1

There are several ways to define a tragic hero. Aristotle breached upon several of these characteristics during his philosophical years. Several definitions were provided at the top of this question, many of which can be attributed to both Othello and Macbeth : Shakespearean plays. These characters were both prime examples of tragic heroes, which differs significantly from regular everyday heroes. The distinct main difference between the two is that tragic characters have some sort of supernatural fate causing destruction. Sometimes in the form of their own personal default.

Macbeth is very relatable to these ideas. In the criterion, Aristotle claimed: “Tragic doom is both public (the State) and private (a family tragedy as well) and usually sexual transgressions are involved in some way. “Personally, I feel this is most relatable to Macbeth. In this play, Macbeth killed Duncan in the very beginning. It was a loss both to the state and family because the citizens lost their King. However, it was also a loss to the family because they lost Duncan. Shakespeare was very consistent with these characteristics employing Aristotle’s ideas.

Aristotle also claimed that: “But the hero struggles mightily against this fate and this cosmic conflict wins our admiration”. Othello had not only one flaw, but several. One being that he was too trusting of Iago. The other being his love Desdemona way too much. He allows this love to consume him and change who he is. He became very jealous and Iago is the fault of this. He sees this deep love and tries to tell Othello that she is cheating on him. Which is what caused him to become so jealous and turn into a unfair leader. These faults caused the destruction of Othello and his reign alike. Aristotle’s criteria fit very well into both Shakespearean works.

Several prejudice concepts are woven into Othello. Amongst these, a reoccurring these would certainly be racism. As we all know, the main character Othello is black and living in a very racist period in history. There are several times when his race determined his fate and how others viewed him as well. Although he was considered a tragic hero, Othello did not obtain the high social recognition as Aristotle claimed was known to tragic heroes.

Othello also married Desdemona, a white woman. This caused many problems in his community and with Iago as well. He became very jealous and became the antagonist in this play, causing Othello many problems. One of the obvious displays of racism in this play would be when Brabantio confronts Othello about the marriage. He came to Othello claiming that Desdemona was forced against her will to marry him. Although it isn’t outright said, we can understand that this is due to his race. But later on, in the discussion he claimed that Othello had nothing to offer a white woman and he’d rather see her unmarried than with him.

In my opinion these ideas are central to the theme of the play. Without these racist conflicts, Othello’s story would be completely different. The hero had to be of color to fully explain the complexities of his life and his struggles. It also shows the intensity of the good nature and morality of the hero Othello. Although these racist implications would have occurred with or without Othello being black, Shakespeare uses this to explain that outside looks have nothing to do with the person inside. Othello was driven to do extremely bad things because of white person’s influence.

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An Analysis of a Tragic Hero in Othello and Macbeth. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2021, from
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