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The play Othello is one of the most tragic plays that Shakespeare wrote. In order for us to determine whether or not Othello regain his former stature in the end we have to look at the event that lead to him to fall from grace and whether or not in the end he was saved from his ways. Many consider him a tragic hero in this play as he is a moral and upright man who is brought to his knees by the careful manipulation of the story's antagonist, Lago. This discussion is my own interpretation of the stature that Othello had and whether after events that lead to his collapse he was able to regain his high stature and moral standing.
According to Mabillard (2000), Othello in this Shakespearean play is portrayed as man who has attained his stature through hard work, even though he is black. He is a noble man who possesses what one might view as all the virtues a great military leader might. He is an experienced soldier by profession and very brave one at that portrayed by the way he conducted himself in the bloody battles waged against the Turks. Through his conduct he has managed to rise through the ranks to the position of a general of the Venetian service and was trusted as well as held in high esteem by the state. This has made him well known, reliable and well respected in the military and out of it. His valiant character endears him to many.
One of the senators shows this in one of his statements.
“Here comes Barbantio and the valiant Moor”, (Shakespeare, Act I scene 3, 47).
This comment shows the character and person that Othello is in the eyes of others. They consider him one of Venice's great leaders.
He was loved by the senator of Venice, Brabantio, who often invited him to his house as well as listens to whatever it is he has to say. There the rich senator's daughter, Desdemona fell in love with him. This shows Othello's high stature because despite being a Moor and black he was still able to attract Desdemona. She only regarded men for their intellect rather than their features who had an admirable individual personality, one that was not nor could be imitated (Shakespeare 48).
The two, Othello and Desdemona, get married privately. However there marriage cannot be kept a secret for long and as Brabantio gets to know about it. He takes upon himself to bring Othello before the solemn council of Senators. He accuses Othello of having used witchcraft and put a spell on Desdemona so that he could seduce her into marrying him. This according to him is all against his consent as well as against the obligation bestowed on Othello for the hospitality afforded to him in the Senator's house (Shakespeare 48).
The case against him is unsuccessful and as a result Brabantio is forced to hand over his daughter although begrudgingly and with great sorrow. This challenge out of the way Othello is able to set out for Cyprus in service of his country. This is a duty bestowed on him because of the respect he commands before the Senate. This is the first instance when the stature of Othello is bestowed back to him as people recognize this goodness and moral standing.
Mabillard (2000) argues that the most dramatic fall from grace for Othello however takes place in Cyprus. It is masterminded by the main antagonist in the play, Lago. When Lago puts his plan for revenge in motion it makes Othello react in a manner that is unexpected. At this juncture Othello is truthful and thinks that Lago is a man of trust and honor. This leads to the manifestation of Othello's jealousy and rage. This occurs when Lago tells him that his wife, Desdemona is a whore. Othello breakdown to a pointed almost choking Lago to death
According to Lamb and Lamb (1909), by the third act Othello is completely corrupted by Lago, he believes that his wife is honest but at other times he does not. At this point in time Othello's innocence is no more as a consequence of not knowing who to trust. He makes matters even graver by going to Lago for help something that the antagonist has been waiting for all along. This shows that the once astute general no longer has neither control nor direction anymore and has no idea of what he is supposed to do.
“By the world, I think that my wife be honest and think that she is not.Â I think that thou art just and think she is not".
Othello then says to Iago:
“Damn her, lewd minx, damn her, damn her! Come, go with me apart. I will withdraw. To furnish me with some swift means of Far that fair devil.Â Now art thou my lieutenant.” (Shakespeare, Act 3, scene 4, 540).
In the end Othello is not able to control his jealousy and vows to kill both his wife and his former friend Cassio. Because of Lago's manipulation he cannot even believe his own wife. In the end he ends up killing her by smothering her with the bedding covers. His jealousy proves to be his greatest downfall. He is referred to as a viper by Lodovico and also considered a coward (Shakespeare 496).
According to Shakespeare and Muir (1968), the actions of Othello were received by the bystanders with a lot of passion that bear a lot of amazement and horror. This came from the fact that he was considered a very reputable man and at the same time had succumbed to the arts of a villain. More so, even in his nobleness, he had not been able to deduce the nature of Lago. Many considered him a loving husband. His love had not been wise but had in fact been too good. As the play is ending it is clear that Othello is remembered for his valiant acts and former merits. This is further strengthened by Othello's successor putting out the strictest of rulings against Lago under the law and sending the new to Venice that their renowned general had passed away. This shows Othello's stature is after all bestowed back to him once he recognizes the error of his ways.
In conclusion and with reference to the points discussed in this context, it is clear that Othello regains his lost stature in the end although he is dead and he does not experience it.
Lamb, Charles and Lamb, Mary. Tales from Shakespeare. 1909. 30 April. 2010. <http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/cml/tfsothello.html>.
Mabillard, Amanda. 'Othello Plot Summary'. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. Viewed on 310 April 2010 < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plots/othellops.html >.
Shakespeare, William and Muir, Kenneth. Othello. London: Penguin Classics, 1968.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. California: Classic Books Company, 2001.