A Shakespearean tragedy is essentially a tale of unexpected suffering and calamity, leading up to, and including the death of its hero. This affliction is often in great contrast to the hero’s previous happiness and glory. The tragic hero, generally, holds a position of high esteem and respect, however possesses a particular weakness which becomes their ‘fatal flaw’, leading to their downfall. Many critics often argue that Shakespeare’s character, Othello, does not meet the expectations of the ‘tragic hero’, and therefore deem him to be ‘unsatisfactory’. However, one often forgets the fact that Othello, although powerful and important, still inherits characteristics of the average human being, which allow him to be manipulated by his witty ensign, Iago. While Iago may appear to his audience as the more ‘interesting’ character, he does not maintain the position of the play’s ‘tragic hero’. The two concepts (tragic hero and interesting character) although not necessarily mutually exclusive, are not, in this case, synonymous. Z. Al-Amin, a university lecturer, helps explain Othello’s status in his work Othello: The Tragedy of Human Nature (1999), and through this critic it can be argued that Othello does attain tragic status. Harold Bloom, a contemporary critic, explores Othello’s ‘fatal flaw’ whilst also exploring how Iago’s evil personality and malevolence scheming helps him to be deemed the play’s most ‘interesting character’.
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