Comparision of the tragic characters in Othello and King Lear in accordance with aspects of a tragic character.

Essay by courto242University, Bachelor'sA+, November 2003

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The Greek philosopher Aristotle set forth the guidelines for a tragedy in his work Poetics. According to Aristotle, the tragic character in a tragedy is a person, not all good or bad, who begins in a rank of high degree and importance and then experiences a downfall due to a tragic flaw. In the end of most tragedies, the character comes to a realization of his flaw after enduring a great deal of suffering. William Shakespeare, an English playwright of the 17th century, composed many tragedies, including King Lear and Othello, which exemplified the characteristics of a tragic hero outlined by Aristotle. The main characters in King Lear and Othello share many of the traits essential to tragic characters, yet they differ in their specific actions taken.

At the start of the two plays, both King Lear and Othello are presented as men of a high rank and importance.

Othello is presented as a courageous military war hero with the noble rank of a general. In Act 1, Othello boasts, "I fetch my life and being / From men of royal siege, and my demerits / May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune / As this that I have reached" (Shakespeare, Othello, I.ii.24-27). These lines indicate that Othello's courageous military acts give him a social status comparable to royalty. It is evidenced that others view Othello as a man of high esteem when a senator remarks in reference to Othello, "Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor" (Othello, I.iii.55). King Lear appears to be a man of wealth, power, peace, and well being in the beginning of the play. Being a king, he has even more wealth and power than Othello; he controls the kingdom of England and possesses the absolute power common of monarchs during the time...