What is a tragic hero? A tragic hero is someone in a play or story that has a character flaw that makes them vulnerable to being manipulated into doing the wrong thing. They are usually being manipulated by the Antagonist (evil doer) in the story who intends to do harm to the main character. It could be a “supporting character” that is manipulated such as in Julius Caesar with “Nobel Brutus” who betrays his good friend because he feels he is doing the right thing, or it could be the main character such as in Othello. Othello is a war general who is manipulated by Iago, a person he views as a good and honest friend. (Iago manipulates more than just Othello though.
) What Othello doesn’t know is that Iago hates him and is plotting Othello’s demise. There are three flaws in Othello’s character that allows Iago to “play” Othello like a fiddle. Those flaws are that Othello is trusting of those around him, he gets jealous easily when it comes to his wife Desdemona, and he is gullible. The fist flaw that leads Othello to destruction is his trusting nature. Othello doesn’t see the evil inside his closest friends, and acquaintances, he only sees the good.
This is his first mistake. When one is too trusting of their allies or those they think are an ally it typically allows them to become the predators prey. As a result of this Othello falls right into Iago’s trap and essentially does Iago’s bidding. One example of this is when Iago gets his wife Emilia to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief and plants it in Cassio’s bedroom and claims to Othello that he saw Cassio wipe his beard with it. Othello becomes outraged at this and fights with Desdemona over the whereabouts of the handkerchief.
Blinded by Iago’s deceit Othello murders his wife. By the time his eyes are opened to the truth, it is too late. The second flaw that leads Othello down a path of destruction is his jealousy concerning his wife Desdemona. In the beginning, he had full faith in Desdemona, but after Iago “works his magic” Othello starts to become paranoid of who his wife talked to and where she went. This is his second mistake.
Iago exploits this flaw in Othello as well. Iago ingeniously twists the truth in order to turn Othello against Desdemona. It works like a charm. An example of this is when Othello calls his wife a w**** and strikes her in public. He also tells Iago he wants Cassio as well as Desdemona dead. The final flaw that seals Othello’s fate is his gullibility.
An example of this is how Othello believes everything that Iago tells him. Granted that he is in disbelief and refused to accept some of the accusations, he still gave into Iago. From start to finish Othello was played by the sinister Iago. However, in the end they both lost their lives and were consumed by their desires for revenge. Iago was a master manipulator. Everyone was nothing more than a pawn to him in his quest for revenge against Othello.
As for Othello he was a kind, well respected general who made the mistake of trusting a snake. As a result he was unsuspecting prey for a blood thirsty predator masqueraded as a friend.