Othello By Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper
Andrew Cecil Bradley discusses Shakespearean tragedy as being exemplified by a tragic hero with a tragic flaw, which ultimately leads to the demise of this hero. He states that “no play at the end of which the hero remains alive is, in the full Shakespearean sense, a tragedy”. In essence, Bradley implies that “tragedy would not be tragedy if it were not a painful mystery.” In his opinion, Bradley believes that tragedy occurs when it involves the “waste of good”. Bradley’s definition of tragedy agrees greatly with Shakespeare’s use of tragedy in Othello.
A. C. Bradley’s definition of tragedy contains many elements. It is considered to contain such “calamity” that leads to the death of a man of high degree. In Othello, Othello is that such character, as he is the General of the Republic. The “calamities” that lead to the death of this hero are not said to just happen blatantly; they come from the actions of men. Bradley explains it well when he says, “we see a number of human beings placed in certain circumstances; and we see, arising from the cooperation of their characters in these circumstances, certain actions.” There is a sequence of interrelated “deeds”—stemming from men’s character—that inevitably lead to a catastrophe. The hero always contributes to the disaster in which he dies. Othello, like other characters in Shakespearean plays, is “built on a grand scale” and his flaw attains in him a terrible force.
Some say Othello’s tragic flaw was jealousy. More modernly, it is said that he had taken in the prejudices of those who surrounded him. Inside, he had grown to believe that he was a man—a black man—unworthy of love. With this in mind, he could not believe in the sincerity of Desdemona’s love. He rushed to accept such ideas as they confirmed his deepest fears, his deepest insecurities. “There is no tragedy in its expulsion of evil: the tragedy is that this involves the waste of good.” The people the evil inhabits are not of something outside the “order”, so that they can attack it or fail to conform to it; they are within it and a part of it. Othello’s military glory, loyalty, intensity of love, and realization that he has destroyed the best in himself when killing Desdemona illustrate how no man has complete power over his life. A man can, however, “judge himself and perform the execution and die with his love.”
Tragedy does not lie in the surrounding evil of Othello, it lies in the consequences of this evil, the consequences of the “waste of good.” An inexplicable fact remains of an evil that can be overcome only by self-torture and self-waste. This “fact” is tragedy.