A Character Analysis of Othello (Moor of Venice)
‘Othello’, one of the most tragic dramas written by Shakespeare has Othello the Moore as its protagonist. He is a courageous general with several wins on the battlefield to his credit. He loves Desdemona deeply and holds strong influence in the political circles. However, future has some thing entirely different in stock for him than what he wished for. Things change pretty fast after Desdemona and Othello’s marriage. Desdemona is beautiful and Othello loves her deeply. Destiny has something in hold that none of the two have imagined. The bond between the two is strong but for the evil machinations of Iago it fails to survive for long. Othello is courageous and has some strong qualities. His character has some flaws that make him liable for easy manipulation and lead him and his wife to a difficult death. Once his and Desdemona’s marriage has taken place things start falling apart, and before he can realize the reason, he himself has reached his end. Poor Desdemona never gets to know what she changed in Othello’s life or why she has to bear the punishment for the crimes she was never guilty of.
Othello is an outsider in the lot
Othello is introduced to the readers as a brave general. He has led several victorious conquests. Desdemona is deeply impressed with him after she learns his story and how brave he is. Both fall in deep love and elope. Othello is a valiant soldier, deeply admired for his courage but still with vulnerabilities. He is vulnerable to lies and while he is fearless he cannot resist being jealous. His color is another factor that gives rise to an inferiority complex in him. It is for his color that he is considered an outsider. Iago even addresses him as a black ram. The biggest flaw in Othello’s character is that he is unable to watch his back and cannot rely on them who can (Desdemona and Cassio) watch it for him. For a courageous general, he lacks the shrewdness and foresight he must have. There are people who despise him but Othello seems ignorant of the fact. Moreover, at later points it turns out that rather than depending on his own judgement he starts believing whatever Iago tells him. Iago is full of reasons to hate Othello, who seems to be the biggest hurdle to his personal growth. He hates Othello for his color, for his being a senior and for his preference of Cassio over him. The promotion Iago sought earnestly was handed over to Cassio by Othello. Despite his being a military general, the number of his loyal followers is low. He is important because of his position but he does not achieve the level of loyalty and love he should have. His exemplary courage fails to compensate for his weaknesses and particularly his lack of self reliance. Iago fills him with lies which badly shakes his confidence leading him to a situation where he kills his wife with his own hands with brutality.
He is brave and still hated
Bravery helps him gain appreciation and not loyalty. As Iago keeps filling him with lies about Desdemona and her infidelity, Othello starts losing control over himself and the situation. It does not take Iago very long to make him believe he is being cuckolded and that Cassio his favorite and Desdemona his beautiful wife, are having an affair. His confidence is ruined when he knows that his beautiful wife does not love him. Iago isolates him with skill from the others using his malicious tricks. The general’s trust in his wife goes on growing weaker and weaker. Othello is not to be blamed for these events because Iago is truly cunning and vicious. He is rather too innocent an army general and his trust too weak. In his own words, he has slain hundreds on the battlefield and is an honorable murderer; honored for as many as he can kill. He meets the senator’s daughter in Venice where they fall in love and elope. His love for Desdemona is deep. She admires the general and appreciates his bravery. However, Othello is ignorant of what is going on behind his back. Iago has hatched a wicked plot to destroy Othello and his married life. Iago despises him for Othello gave the position Iago wanted to Cassio. He also hates Othello for his being a black. In a society of whites, Othello remains an outsider. None of his character traits make him as vulnerable as does his immense love for Desdemona.
As a husband, he is not as strong, as he is courageous as a general. For this reason, he ends up spoiling his own fate. A lack of foresight renders him unable to see through the events being staged before him and the truth behind them. If not for Iago, Othello’s life would have been pleasant and rid of miseries. Despite having the courage required of a soldier he lacks the wisdom that could help him see through Iago’s dirty plan. He is short-sighted and Iago manipulates this vulnerability and employs it to lead him to death and misery. For Desdemona, he is a loving husband, and she loves him till the end even when he is ready to kill her. Othello’s emotions become a major weakness in the drama.
He stops relying on Desdemona’s love once Iago has spoilt his ears. So, Othello, an experienced general has his weak points and it is particularly for his misplaced reliance that his story is as tragic. Othello at first tries to verify Iago’s truth, but Iago excels in con and Othello ends up believing every word of what he is told. Iago successfully makes him believe he is being cuckolded. Another weakness of Othello is his jealousy and it shows he is pretty vulnerable emotionally. He grows so jealous of Cassio that he determines to kill him and Desdemona.
There is no dearth of love in Othello’s heart for Desdemona but once Iago’s plan has wreaked the havoc, he is willing to slay her with his own hands. The influence of evil takes the relationship to an end so brutal that could make readers cry. It has not been all that easy for Iago either. He too has to do his best to convince Othello that Desdemona is disloyal. But, as he goes on to pour his lies into Othello’s ears, he starts believing them.
By the end, Othello has proved himself just another victim of Iago’s viciousness, like Desdemona and Emilia. Othello is a courageous soldier but being called a cuckold instigates him to kill his own wife with. The suspicion that grows in Othello’s heart makes him blind to both the love and loyalty of Desdemona. Othello is a hero with a fatal flaw and his emotional vulnerability and lack of trust turn him into a victim from a courageous general. Suspicion can kill but not as bad as in the case of Othello. However, Othello does not have a weak conscience. He tries to fight the evil inside him till the end. Iago has to work a lot till he can make Othello grow suspicious of Desdemona and Cassio. This is where Shakespeare’s art lies. His characters are never ordinary and always end up making readers feel like winners. These characters have unequalled depth and are matchless.