Essay, Research Paper: Othello And Iago

Shakespeare: Othello

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The Different Sides of Iago’s Character In Shakespeare's "Othello,"
Iago carefully and masterfully entraps Othello into believing that his wife,
Desdemona, is having an affair with Cassio. He does this through a series of
suggestions and hesitations that entice and implant images into Othello's head
that lead him to his own end. More importantly, Iago gives Othello the motive to
murder his own innocent wife Desdemona, satisfying Iago's huge appetite for
revenge. The motive for Iago's devious plan is initially made clear in the first
of three major soliloquies, in which he proclaims Othello has had an affair with
his wife, Emilia: "And it is thought abroad that t'wixt my sheets/ He's
done my office” (I.iii.). The irony behind this line is where he continues:
"I know not if't be true/ But I, for mere suspicion in that kind; / Will do
as if for surety"(I.iii.). Iago is so paranoid and insane that he will go
far as murdering, and even fool a general into murdering his wife. At the same
time Iago conducts a plan to take over Cassio's position as lieutenant, using
Desdemona's weakness; her naivety. He disgraces Cassio by intoxicating him
enough so he strikes Roderigo. Othello then discharges Cassio of his Lieutenancy
when he says: "Cassio, I love thee, / But nevermore be officer of
mine" (II.iii.). It was therefore understandable that he would fall to the
mercy of Iago, completely unaware of the inevitable effects. Iago reveals his
plan to the reader in his third soliloquy when he states: His soul is so
unfettered to her love, That she may make, unmake, do what she list, Even as her
appetite shall play the god With his weak function... And she for him pleads
strongingly to the Moore, I'll pour this pestilence into his ear: That she
repels him for her body's lust, And by how much she strives to do him good, She
shall undo her credit with the Moor (II.iii.). The first instance of this plan
comes to life in the scene where Iago gets Cassio drunk, but his plan begins
after Othello banishes Cassio. With Cassio's reputation ruined, Iago fools
Cassio by taking advantage of the fact that he is in a state in which he would
do anything to get his job, position, and reputation back. Iago tells him to
find Desdemona to get It back: "Our General's wife is/ now the
General...She is so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition, she holds
it a vice in her/ goodness not to do more than she is requested..." (II.iii.).
Iago knows Desdemona is very naive. While Cassio is talking to Desdemona about
asking Othello to take him back, Iago is implanting sexual images of Cassio and
Desdemona in Othello's mind. The more Desdemona pleads to Othello about this
matter, the more Othello believes that Cassio is sleeping with his wife. Also,
the more he refuses Desdemona's wishes, the more she pleads, thereby creating
even more of a conflict between the three characters. For his plan to work
successfully Iago first had to carefully gain trust from all of the characters.
Since he was a master of deception, this was not very difficult. His
declarations of love he that he spoke so strongly of throughout the play were
enough to fool everyone: "I think you think I love you...""I
protest, in the sincerity of love and kindness..." obviously he deceives
the characters in the play through their words:(Othello) "Thy honesty and
love doth mince this matter...""my friend, thy husband, honest, honest
Iago..." (Cassio)"Good night honest Iago...""I never knew a
Florentine more kind and honest." The love and honesty Iago falsely shows
upon Othello and Cassio makes it an impossible idea to either that Iago could
ever set either of them up in such a way. The irony of all this is throughout
his declarations of love, Iago is deceiving them. Iago's beloved wife, Emilia,
is the one who eventually unravels her husband's plan in the scene, but it is
already too late, for Iago has gained his revenge with the murder Of Desdemona
by Othello. The relationship between Iago and Emilia is very vague. She doesn't
seem to know her husband very well and neither does he. This is could be due to
Iago's animal like attitude to love and life. He is very individualistic,
concerned only of himself and his needs. He is very self-centered, and this is
made clear in the first scene when he shouts at Brabantio. The feelings Iago
have are common jealousy. In an attempt at revenge, he does more than Othello
supposedly did to him. By putting Othello through the same feelings he himself
had gone through, he does not rid or relieve his feelings, but merely gains
sadistic pleasure from brutal revenge and that is not to say Othello is not a
flawless character. Iago’s character can be interpreted differently by all of
us because of our own imagination and understanding.
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