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Posted on May 1st, 2014, by

Aristotle treated the tragedy as the top of arts, and this view corresponds to a leading position tragedy occupied in the ancient culture. According to Aristotle, tragedy represents itself any specific action, which has been finished by the present moment, and this action must necessarily be scary or serious. Aristotle states that tragedy is not an imitation of people, but of actions and life, happiness and misfortune (Aristotle 23). Generally, tragedy reproduces the transition of a human from happiness to misery. As a genre, the tragedy is singing a hymn to human immortality; it reveals good and beautiful beginnings in a man, which triumph and win despite the death of the hero. Tragically dying person typically finds the continuation in the life of the society, and, on the other hand, staying in people’s memory, preserves the individual value.

Thus, in Aristotelian tragedy, there is always a problem of the irretrievable loss of a unique individuality (here is where the grief comes from), and, on the other hand, the idea of the extending life of this individual, continuation of hero’s life of the in the life of the mankind (the motive of joy). Aristotle revealed the special character of tragedy’s impact on the soul of the viewer and put forward the concept of “catharsis”¯, i.e. cleansing of “similar affects”¯ through fear and compassion (Aristotle 39). Showing the heroism of a personality passing through severe sufferings, the art forms similar affects; and the tragedy thus teaches the viewer the same firmness and flight of the spirit which are available to tragic heroes, as inside the nature of tragic heroes one can see the resistance and confrontation to the threatening circumstances, and the aspiration to solve complex issues of being through actions.

In this perspective, Shakespeare’s tragedies are the revolt against the forces which restrain a person, the establishment of dictatorship of a free man. Shakespeare’s tragedies are the tragedies of the individual who is in no way regulated (Battenhouse 520). Having freed from the shackles of medieval morality or chivalry notions of conscience and honor, a personality was often losing all the inner morality, conscience and honor at a time, while the impending bourgeois epoch was ready to turn the humanistic Rabelaisian motto “Do what you want”¯ into Hobbes’ thesis on war of every man against every man (“Bellum omnium contra omnes”¯). Shakespeare’s hero, in one’s free and unlimited/unconstrained development (Othello), ran into equally free and unrestrained development of the evil (Iago). Evil, created by Iago, was as consistent implementation of “do what you want”¯ principle as the nobility of Othello. But in reality, the liberation of the individual and the utopia of a non-regulated person turned into an absolute regimentation.

Compared to all the mature tragedies of Shakespeare, the development of the plot in “Othello”¯ is to the most extent centered on the personal sphere. There is no Trojan war, no conflict of Egypt with the Roman Empire, and even the military conflict, which is ready to flare up between Venice and the Turks, is exhausted in the first scene of Act II, when the storm sparing the ships of Othello and Desdemona, has taken to the bottom of the Turkish fleet (Shakespeare 89). Such a construction of the play can easily lead to the analysis of “Othello”¯ as a purely personality tragedy. However, any exaggeration of intimate and personal beginning in “Othello”¯ at the expense of other aspects of this work, in the end, inevitably turns into an attempt to limit Shakespearean tragedy to the narrow frameworks of jealousy drama. In daily use, the name of Othello has really long become synonymous to a jealous person, but still, the theme of jealousy in Shakespeare’s tragedy serves if not as a secondary element, then in any case, as a derived from the more complex issues defining the ideological depth of play.

Turning to Aristotle, we can say that he raises the question of the nature of a tragic hero in the prism that compassion occurs for an innocently miserable, and fear occurs in front of misfortune similar to our own, while the tragic hero does not possess any special virtue and justice, and falls into misfortune not due to one’s worthlessness or wickedness, but due to some mistake, though was previously found in a great honor and happiness. The concept denoting a tragic flaw in the character of the main hero of the tragedy or one’s fatal mistake called hamartia (Aristotle 44) becomes, in this way, the source of moral excruciations and significantly sharpens the confession of one’s own guilt, even if this guilt is absent.

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