By Anish Odhav
The renowned writer of the play Othello, William Shakespeare, once wrote, “some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.” Shakespeare personifies the ideas in this quote through his tragic hero Othello. Throughout the tale, Shakespeare describes how a virtuous man married to a beautiful maiden falls prey to doubt and fear, eventually leading to his ultimate downfall. Shakespeare conveys this fall from grace by creating different personas progressively throughout the play for Othello, and this becomes the defining trait that eventually leads to Othello’s downfall.
Othello is a complex and fascinating character who has many facets and complex character traits which seem to change and develop throughout the play. From the beginning of the play, the reader can clearly tell that generally, the people of the public regard Othello very highly as well. Othello is seen as a leader, compatriot and friend to many of the rich and wealthy of Venetian society. Even Brabantio loved Othello before he married Desdemona; Othello describes how, “Her father loved me, oft invited me, / Still question’d me the story of my life, / From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, / That I have passed.” (I.iii.149-152) when he is talking about Desdemona to the senators. The only person perceived to actually hate Othello is Iago, a person who seems to have problems with anger anyway. Even Roderigo doesn’t actually hate Othello as a person, but rather he hates the idea of Othello being married to Desdemona. In terms of Othello, his emotions and perceptions of people fluctuate far too much throughout the play to make a generalization about his feelings for everyone. At the beginning of the play, Othello seems to be a caring and trusting person. In fact, until Iago plants the seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind, Othello seems to love and care about everyone he interacts with. For example, even when Cassio has stabbed the much loved and cared about Montano, Othello tells him that he still loves him and that it hurts him to strip Cassio of his rank. Othello also places trust in almost everyone he encounters and seems to actually love his wife a lot. However, by the end of the play, Othello totally changes personality. He always seems preoccupied and worried to the other characters in the play, and he constantly treats Desdemona with animosity. Also, he starts to lose his public composure which slowly eats away at his image. For example, when he is greeting Ludovico and Desdemona comes to help, he quickly loses his temper for no apparent reason and slaps her. To onlookers, he looks like a man who has lost his senses and is not fit to be of his status. This change in personality ultimately leads to his downfall as he slowly becomes more and more erratic, eventually making the rash decision to kill both Desdemona and Cassio. Ultimately, in the end, Othello understands how he caused his own fall from grace, and eventually kills himself with the final words, “I took by th’ throat the circumcised dog,/ And smote him thus. he stabs himself” (V,ii,415-416) In his final declaration, Othello calls himself a dog and denigrates himself, symbolizing his understanding of his failure. He also changes his nature for the last time: from an erratic and distrusting man to the loving and proud man he once was; unfortunately, this change of heart came far too late for Othello.
Overall,Othello’s lack of strong character and his constant change of nature leads to his ultimate downfall. All throughout the play he can never seem to settle on a specific character and is in constant flux. Othello’s story is relevant to the reader because it warns against the dangers of a lack of character. His depiction successfully shows how seemingly the best of men can be brought to their knees due to the lack of a solid character. Even if the reader probably will not turn into a murderer because of their lack of personality, the audience can understand how their life can be ruined by this fatal mistake. Ultimately, we see how an erratic and constantly changing persona can lead to the death of a hero, both literally and figuratively.
bibliography for image: Adamczyk, Matthew. “Rogue Ballerina.” Rogue Ballerina. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.