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Heroic Virtue in Othello

Heroic Virtue in Othello

William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello puts on exhibit an obvious hero and other not-so-obvious heroes. Let us examine them all in this essay.

The supreme type of hero in this play did not occur overnight to the playwright. Rather he slowly built upon one hero after another in his plays until his work culminated in the Moor. A. C. Bradley, in his book of literary criticism, Shakespearean Tragedy, describes the development of the Shakespearean super-hero in Othello:

And with this change goes another, an enlargement in the stature of the hero. There is in most of the later heroes something colossal, something which reminds us of Michelangelo’s figures. They are not merely exceptional men, they are huge men; as it were, survivors of the heroic age living in a later and smaller world. [. . .] Othello is the first of these men, a being essentially large and grand, towering above his fellows, holding a volume of force which in repose ensures pre-eminence without an effort, and in commotion reminds us rather of the fury of the elements than of the tumult of common human passion. (168)

The character’s attitude toward life is certainly a criterion for heroism. Is he heroic in what he does? H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, discusses the general’s heroic attitude in the final scene of the play:

In the final scene of Othello, the hero, with that utter lack of self-consciousness of self-criticism which is the height of human vanity, strikes a heroic attitude, makes an eloquent plea for himself, at the height of his eloquence stabs himself – and the innocent spectator feels a lump in his throat or dissolves in te…

… middle of paper …

… of the play is a pleasant surprise.

Despondent Othello, grief-stricken by remorse for the tragic mistake he has made, acts heroically, following the example of Emilia. He stabs himself and dies on the bed next to the one he has wronged.


Bradley, A. C.. Shakespearean Tragedy. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Gardner, Helen. “Othello: A Tragedy of Beauty and Fortune.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from “The Noble Moor.” British Academy Lectures, no. 9, 1955.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.

Abnormal And Abnormal Behavior

Abnormal/Normal Behavior When I think of abnormal behavior, the first thing that comes to mind is one of my aunt’s. She committed suicide when I very young, so early 1970’s. As I got older, inevitably stories of her would arise during holiday get togethers. She was married with three children and in her early thirties, residing in Florida, when she walked out and away from her husband and small children. For over a year, no one knew what happened to her, she made no effort to contact anyone. Eventually, the Salvation Army somewhere in Michigan called my grandmother and they sent her home on a bus. She never returned to her husband or children. The doctors diagnosed her as a paranoid schizophrenic. My mother told me that when she was on her medication she was fine, but once she felt “fine”, she would stop her medication. When the medication left her system, she became anxious and afraid. She once chased my grandmother, who was in her late sixties down the driveway with an ax, because she thought her mother was trying to kill her. After several inpatient stays in mental hospitals, she came back home again and she was doing good. She left my grandmother’s one night while everyone was sleeping, made it approximately fifteen miles away to a lake.…show more content…
Although, serial killers such as Ted Bundy looked and acted “normal” on the inside he was not. I find it very difficult to define normal behavior, because of the large variations of what is “normal”. Our society accepts many forms of normal behavior, whether it is a gender identity issue, or being LBGT are both of which would have never occurred or be accepted in 1970. Thankfully, we live in a country and have information that tests our toddlers and children to make sure they are hitting the “normal” developmental milestones. An absence of speech by a certain age is a milestone used to test a child for autism (Hooley, Butcher,

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