How far it is correct to say that Othello is the most romantic of all Shakespearean tragic heroes?
Over and above the obvious generic import, the juxtaposition of the terms ‘romantic’ and ‘tragic’ hero in a single character entails a further connotation encompassing a way of life as well as a breadth of vision. Inspired alike by his literary ambition and Elizabethan exuberance, Shakespeare in Othello tried his hands at creating his major male protagonist that was to model upon the ‘tragic hero’ conception. For, it is a tragic hero who gives the tone and significance to a tragedy. He, however, ended up interspersing and spicing up the character of Othello with marked romantic qualities where poetry, love, adventure, and much more allied things dominate.
Othello to primarily a romantic figure because of the strange life of war and adventure which he has lived from childhood. There is something mysterious in his birth from men of royal siege and in his wanderings among distant peoples and in remote lands. He gives us a glimpse of numberless battles and sieges in which he has played the hero and has born a charmed life. As a romantic adventurer, he has Sean many perils of life and the dangers of war. He has passed through the most thrilling and adventurous experiences. He has had many hair-breadth escapes from war and slavery.
Othello’s courtship of Desdemona also has a certain touch of romance about it. The hero and the heroine are not engaged in the same kind of Love. Their attraction is based on what we may call romantic idealism and adventurous exploits. Their story of romance and reunion reads like an interesting romance of some great warrior winning some beautiful princess. Then there is the magic handkerchief which in the token of Love Othello gives as his first gift to Desdemona. He describes its value and importance also. A sibyl is known to have worked on it in her prophetic furry.
Othello is a poet. He is more poetic than Hamlet also. He moves our hearts and stirs our imagination with his speeches and phrases. It is the romantic side of war that appeals to him very much. He has got in him the romantic rule of the glorious and heroic pictures of war. The vision of Othello is like that of a poet. He gazes in wonder with the poet’s eye on many things. He has seen the base Indian throwing away pearl ‘richer than all his tribe.
It is because of the poetic quality that he lacks what we know as the critical spirit which is found in Iago. Othello makes an Emotional appeal to our hearts with his poetic speeches. The speeches of Othello are aglow with poetic fire. E.g.
(i) If he is false, 0 then heaven mocks itself, I’ll not believe it:
(ii) No, my heart is turned to stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand
(iii) But yet the pity of it, Iago, the pity of it Iago!
And these poetic imagination has accompanied him throughout his life. He has watched with a poet’s eye the Arabian trees dropping their medicinal gum and the Indian throwing away his chance-found pearl, and he has felt strongly The poetry of the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.
Undoubtedly, then, Othello is dubbed as the most romantic and poetic of Shakespeare’s heroes. Macbeth and Hamlet to are poetic, but in their case, it is not poetry that is always in the ascendant in their utterances. Othello’s speeches are surcharged with a romantic poetic glow and in his speeches, we discover the sparkling vivacity and pasting romantic fervor. of an adventurous hero nourished in the thick of romance adventure, war, and dangers of life. Prof Bradley aptly writes, “He does not belong to our world, and he seems to enter it we know not whence – almost as if from wonderland.”