In Aristotle’s poetics, tragedy refers to imitation of a serious act that has certain magnitude and is embellished in speech and is accomplished by evoking such emotions as terror and pity. In his poetic works, Aristotle introduces six different elements which he outlines as being components of tragedy. They include plot, diction, spectacle, character, song and thought (Aristotle and Butcher). Iago’s plan to discredit Cassio works initially because Cassio has apparent flaws and Iago can ruin Cassio’s reputation by showing Othello how improperly Cassio conducts himself with alcohol and/or women.
Othello, who is at the same time a black Moor, and a noble one spends his life as a mercenary and becomes an army general of the Venetian republic. He marries a beautiful Venetian girl named Desdemona secretly and her father reports this to the Duke of Venice. Othello tries to defend himself but is ordered to a war front in Cyprus. He goes with Desdemona and with Cassio whom he had made lieutenant and Iago, his aide. The Turkish fleet is scattered, and Iago uses this opportunity to destroy Othello as he resents him. He persuades him that Cassio has an affair with Desdemona although this is not true (Shakespeare). He goes further to make his wife, Emilia, steal Desdemona’s handkerchief and ensures that it is in Cassio’s possession so as to make Othello jealous. Othello reacts by killing Desdemona. However, Emilia shows Desdemona’s innocence at which Iago murders her. This is his second murder, after Roderigo’s. Iago is arrested but fails to apologize. Othello learns that he was duped, and he takes his own life. According to Aristotle’s explanation on the plot, the happenings and intrigues in Othello play is an integral part in capturing the audience’s interest. The plot, made up of the characters’ arrival in Cyprus, Iago’s continuous manipulations and Othello’s emotional breakdown maintain its momentum thus holding the interest of the audience. Such twists, turns and revelations make each play a part in grasping and holding the audience’s attention.
Through the character of Othello, Shakespeare depicts the flaws that have the ability to ruin a marriage, to haunt an individual to a point of committing suicide and cause harm if not clearly put under review. This counts on with Aristotle’s element of character. If Othello had been some sort of sub ordinary person, with no honor at all, he would not serve as a tragic figure and thus his fall would be insignificant to the audience (McManus). The playwright’s decision, to alter the happening of reversal and recognition, is done in order that they do not occur simultaneously, achieved the objective of making Othello’s fall more tragic. The character of Othello was also an ideal one to be viewed by the audience as a tragic hero; he was sub ordinary enough to command pity and noble enough to be taken seriously.
The characters used in the play are those that the audience can become acquainted with and therefore hold their attention. Iago is a malignant character who enjoys his evil schemes and declares himself a villain in the happenings of the play. Scenes showing Iago’s antics would make the audience cringe, when Cassio is made drunk the audience would groan and at Emilia’s revelations the audience would find themselves nodding in affirmation. The playwright intended to invoke certain emotions in the audience by using all those characters (McManus).
As the play begins and events unfold, the love that exists between Desdemona and Othello is so profound and spectacular than any other in Shakespeare’s works. There is a certain unique love chemistry that cannot be undone by the Duke nor Desdemona’s father. Another spectacular moment is when Othello realizes the mistake he had made in having to listen to Iago’s constant insinuations that made him kill Desdemona. These accounts make the characters able to relate with the audience just as Aristotle puts it. Such scenes are viewed to have a unique feel and lively scenery.
The use of diction in Othello is felt when Othello captivates the audience with a seemingly beautiful diction while also using the ribald language to startle them and thus grasp their keenness. The use of several poetic lines in Othello makes the audience attracted to the work of art. A case in point is the play’s closure with a statement from Lodvico. Shakespeare also uses comic relief to ensure that the audience is not bored and to relieve tension. He uses a witty clown who lightens the mood as he converses with Desdemona.
Thought an element in Aristotelian Poetics refers to the ability to say whatever is appropriate for a given occasion. When Iago decides not to apologize even after he is found guilty of crimes and arrested he says:
From this time forth I will never speak word.
In Emilia’s testimony concerning Desdemona’s innocence, the element of thought has been appropriately utilized. This element is depicted in what a character says to prove a point. Melody can be traced in the scene in Cyprus where the play takes on a slow pace before Othello’s arrival. At his arrival the lovers reunite marking a very high point of their happiness, but Iago promises to destroy it by asserting that he will “set down the pegs that make this music” (Cristiano).