Aspects of Tragedy- Othello

Anagnorisis 5.2 Othello “Demand that demi-devil why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body”- Othello realises that he ahs been deceived by Iago, and that Desdemona was faithful to him
Isolation As a North African man in Venice, Othello is isolated from the start. This is only further enhanced by Iago, who keeps Othello on the outside of knowledge
Catastrophe, calamity 5.2 Lodovico (to Iago) “Look on the tragic loading of this bed”- the aftermath of a true tragedy. The bed-curtains are drawn over the death bed which was fitted with their wedding sheets, now acting as a shroud
Changes of fortune Othello goes from being a well-respected, noble man who fetches his “life and being from men of royal siege” to have “fallen in the practice of a damned slave” by 5.2.
Tragic hero Fallen from a position of nobility and respect with a “soft phrase of peace” to a man who a man who fulfils his racial stereotypes of anger, violence and extreme passion as a result of the manipulation of his insecurities
Tragic victims Desdemona as a tragic victim enhances her chastity, vulnerability and innocence as an “angel”, while tarnishing Othello as “the blacker devil”. Emilia could also be seen as a tragic victim of the manipulation of women by men into being suppressed and silenced
Fate In 3.3, the fate of Desdemona and Cassio was sealed through Othello’s fragmented broken speech as he loses control, saying “death and damnation”, and uses violent, animalistic language of how he’ll “tear her all to pieces”
Learning and moral growth While Othello and Iago do not experience any moral learning or growth, it could be said that Emilia does, as she comes to terms with the inequality between men and women. She goes from having “no speech” in 2.1 to she “will not chide [her] tongue” in 5.2
Sadness, misery The “tragic loading” of the bed is full of sadness and misery, and encapsulates the sorrow of the play as a whole
Hostility of nature In 2.1, there “is a high-wrought flood” which drowns the Turkish fleet, transforming the tragedy from a public, military tragedy to a smaller, domestic tragedy of what happens to soldiers when they have no war to fight.
Overarching solemn and serious tone and language Othello’s language goes from being lyrical in his harmonic relationship with Desdemona, until Iago decides to create discord in their “well-tuned” marriage, “setting down the pegs that make this music as honest as I am”. He makes their heartstrings out of tune
Arousal of fear At the end pf 3.3, the audience begin to fear for Desdemona when her fate is sealed by Iago and Othello. We know that she has been fully faithful, but Othello now only sees her as a “lewd minx”, a worthless temptress who ought to be damned.
Arousal of pity Pity is evoked as a progression from the arousal of fear, as we are certain that Desdemona is going to be murdered, but there is nothing that we can do to prevent it- all we can do is feel sorry for her
Power The extreme power and control that Iago has over Othello is disconcerting, as it gives him the perfect platform to orchestrate Othello’s downfall by playing on his insecuritiesIago also has power over Emilia, who is continuously silenced and suppressed by him
Tragic settings The move to Cyprus as a whole as an outpost of civilisation sets up the tragic setting.Specifically, the tragic setting of the bed, prepared with the wedding sheets, becomes the “tragic” deathbed, and the wedding sheets become a shroud
Tragic magnificence The tragic magnificence of the play is emphasised through Othello’s fall from grace. He falls from his elevated status of a military officer to a “devil”, showing the capability of manipulation and deception
Treatment of women Throughout the play, Emilia is continuously silenced by Iago, however, we know that in reality, she has some strong opinions on men, saying how “it is their husband’s fault if wives do fall”, as they would not commit infidelity if their husbands were better to them. She speaks out in 5.2, saying “I will speak as liberal as the north”Desdemona is well-respected, and becomes the “general’s general”, however, she is still supressed by Othello, as he refuses to believe herBianca is ignored by Cassio, as he uses her when he pleases, but gives very little back to her.
Misjudgements The whole play is based on misjudgements, as Othello misjudges “honest Iago” and his honesty, Desdemona’s fidelity and his own downfall
Tragic endings The “tragic loading” of the bed
Tragic villains Iago is an antagonist who seeks revenge on Othello for not promoting Iago- his villainy is fiendish and inexplicable, proved at the end in 5.2 when he “will not speak word”
Tragic flaws Othello’s excessive pride, jealousy and gullibility may be some of his tragic traits, but his main tragic flaw was his insecurity and lack of personal confidence (due to age, race…), which enabled Iago to manipulate him
Tragic fall Othello falls from “men of royal siege” to a “blacker devil”
Emptiness Iago’s motives could be said to be empty, with no true, rational reason for bringing about Othello’s downfall
Death The “tragic loading” of the deathbed in 5.2
Pride Othello’s hubris eventually leads to his downfall, as he is too proud to ask Desdemona if she has been unfaithful, as he does not want to be cuckolded and have his manhood, honour and reputation ruined as a result
Loss The loss of trust in Desdemona initiated Othello’s downfall, as he began to believe that she was unfaithful, and that he would lose everything as a result
Pessimism rather than directly asking Desdemona about a relationship with Cassio, Othello’s pride resulted in him thinking the worst of Desdemona- she was always guilty to him, even though he had no proof
The Gods Othello believes that he is almost a God, and more than a man. Therefore, he deserves to be worshipped by Desdemona, not cuckolded
Catharsis By 5.2, the audience and the characters experience a purging of suppressed emotions, as the truth that we have known all along comes out, but it is too late
Magnitude The magnitude of the calamity is shown through the immense final scene, where the characters are either killed or realise that they have wrongly killed
Positives emerging There seems to be some order at the end of 5.2, as Cassio is reappointed to rule in Cyprusand Lodovico and Gratiano seem to be representative of control and civilisation in Cyprus
Blindness Othello is blind to the truth throughout the whole play, as he believes what he wants to believe and ignores the facts. To him, the handkerchief is no longer a symbol of love, but of infidelity, even though he has no solid proof that Desdemona has ever been unfaithful to him
Suffering The play is full of suffering, as every character (except perhaps Iago) suffers in some way. Desdemona is innocently killed, Othello is wrongly manipulated, Emilia is silenced, Cassio is accused, Roderigo is killed and Bianca is used