Othello Sample Answer




‘Othello is a weak character, who brings about his own destruction.’

Discuss this view, supporting your answer with suitable reference to the text.




‘Othello is a weak character, who brings about his own destruction.’

Discuss this view, supporting your answer with suitable reference to the text.

I firmly believe that Othello is a character who has much to admire about him. He is gallant and courageous and by one account ‘commands like a full soldier’.  In every way, he presents initially as a heroic figure, more than a match for any enemy on the battlefield and a fitting husband for the divine and beloved Desdemona. However, it soon became clear to me that he is an inherently flawed individual, haunted by insecurities and vulnerable to manipulation by others. Ultimately it is the cunning Iago who exposes Othello as a weak character, whose problems are many and deep. It may be unfair to say that he is completely deserving of the chronic chaos and destruction that consumes his life, but I don’t think there can be any doubt that Othello contributes handsomely to his own demise.

  When we first encounter Othello, there is little evidence of any weaknesses in his character and he comes across as a highly respected and capable individual with many strengths. One powerful senator describes him as the ‘valiant Moor’ and this seems to reflect the general sense that he is a man who is revered among the powerful elite of Venice. Even Iago himself, who confesses that ‘I hate the Moor’, has to admit that ‘another of his fathom they have none to lead their business’. I found this particularly impressive given the obstacles Othello must have faced as a dark-skinned outsider, as he strove to succeed in a society tarnished by racism and prejudice. I found it fascinating to see the courage that obviously gained him so much respect over the years in action, when he faced down Brabantio and the angry mob that accused him of using ‘witchcraft’ to enchant Desdemona. I was really impressed with the calm way he suggests that the men ‘keep up your bright swords for the dew will rust them’. You could see why this sort of calmness and bravery in the midst of a crisis would have been prized by the leaders of Venice and have led to Othello rising to such a position of power. There is no doubt that for all his weaknesses, Othello has many fine qualities.

The problem for Othello is that beneath the obvious qualities that are apparent initially in the play, there are also a number of serious flaws that in the end help bring about his complete destruction.




Of course there is no doubt that Othello’s weaknesses alone would not have been enough to destroy him had Iago not been on hand to exploit those vulnerabilities. Othello’s naivety leaves him in a position where the very person he trusts the most is the one who is most determined to bring about his ruination. Iago’s cunning nature combined with Othello’s ‘constant loving noble nature’ mean that he is easily ‘led by th’ nose. As asses are.’ In some ways I feel that Othello is desperately unlucky to encounter a man so evil; who is so determined to practise ‘upon his peace and quiet. Even to madness.’ Not only is Iago determined to use ‘all the tribe of hell’ to ruin Othello, but he sets about the task with the sort of brilliant cunning that I honestly was in awe of. The way he slyly manipulates the thought processes of the vulnerable Othello for me is one of the most memorable aspects of the play. The insinuating tone that he uses when commenting ‘I like not that’ as Cassio skulks away is enough to plant the most insidious thoughts in the Moor’s head. For all his many weaknesses, there is no doubt in my mind that Iago’s evil and determined cunning plays a significant role in Othello’s ultimate demise.

It is part of the tragedy of Othello that a character of his talents and standing allows himself to be so easily led towards self-destruction. Superficially, Othello is something of a super-hero, the one the privileged elite of Venice turn to when the Turks or some other enemy threaten. However, despite the fact that Othello’s faults appear at first insignificant: insecurity in his outsider status; too trusting, prone to jealousy etc., it quickly became clear to me that they could prove to be potentially fatal. In Iago’s manipulative hands, Othello’s vulnerabilities are exposed and ruthlessly fuelled. In the end though, despite Iago’s crucial contribution, I do believe that Othello is a weak character who must accept the blame for his own destruction, not to mention for all the other innocent blood that is so needlessly shed.




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