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Sometimes a tragedy doesn't look like one because no one dies, for instance we can think of The Merchant of Venice as a tragedy with Shylock as the tragic hero. Sometimes what looks like a tragedy isn't one because even though the hero dies, he was the pawn of forces greater than he was; Antony And Cleopatra fits that way of thinking. But sometimes a tragedy is one even though the tragic flaw seems to come from outside. Othello is such a play.

Othello is a powerful man in Venice, despite being a black man in a white world. He's not even a Christian yet he marries the beautiful Desdemona. They love each other deeply. Othello's good fortunes bother Iago, the villain of the play. He frames Desdemona and convinces Othello she is guilty of adultery. In a fit of jealous righteousness, Othello kills Desdemona.


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Othello's flaw isn't so much that he is jealous and possessive. He really did love his wife and it's only when apparently incontrovertible evidence is laid before his eyes that he falls prey to jealousy. His flaw is in his willingness to believe. His pride won over his love. If he had let go of his pride, he would have believed both Desdemona and Iago; he would have lived with the contradiction between what he saw and what he knew. But Iago's plan succeeds. Pride is very close to hubris and though Iago arranges the situation, he only tempts Othello.

In the end the wealthy, resolute, generous Othello, who is not the victim of forces beyond his control. After all Iago's abilities pale when compared to Othello's. Othello falls through pride, through his inability accept a loss of face.