Maybe it's Othello himself who throws me off. He's sortof a wimp, y'know? Awfully easily manipulated, anyway. I guess he's insecure, because there's no other explanation for his fall, but that's not really reflected in anything he says - just what he does.
Everyone always focuses on his race: "As an outsider, he doesn't believe his position is secure; therefore he's all too ready to believe Iago's lies." But none of that is really in the play. Iago, Roderigo and Desdemona's dad engage in some vicious ranting right at the beginning, but that serves to set up Othello's introduction as an eloquent, respected general; the difference between their description and his reality simply establishes their villainy.
Traditionally, the tragic hero must have flaws that lead inexorably to his downfall; here, I'm left guessing at what Othello's flaws might be. Despite some moving scenes and the presence of one of Shakespeare's best villains, Othello doesn't stand with Shakespeare's best plays.
Read this in preparation for seeing it on the Boston Common tonight. This is probably the third time I've read the thing, and there's something weird about it; I like it, but I keep failing to love it. I feel like this is a personal problem; Othello's one of the best, everyone says so, right? And it has some scenes that are incredibly powerful; the (uh, spoiler alert?) bit where Othello kills Desdemona is brutal. And, of course, it has Iago, the apotheosis of Shakespeare's "As evil as I wanna be" villains.