Essay, Research Paper: Othello

Shakespeare: Othello

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In Othello, we encounter Iago, one of Shakespeare’s most evil characters. Iago
is an officer in Othello's army and is jealous of Cassio's promotion to
Lieutenant. Through deception and appearance, we see many lies and clever
schemes unfold. The astonishing thing about Iago is that he seems to make up his
malicious schemes as he goes along without any planning. I agree with the
critics that say Iago represents a “motiveless malignity”. Throughout the
play, Iago portrays himself as a devil figure and can compare with the devil.
Iago has proved himself to be a master of deception. He lies to everyone to
disguise his own thoughts. For example, in Act 1 scene 2, when he is speaking to
Othello about his feelings toward Cassio, he uses very strong language, while at
the same time, he lies throughout the whole speech faking loyalty to a fellow
soldier. He says, “I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth. Than it
should do offense to Michael Cassio”. This deception impresses and convinces
Othello that his officer is a good and loyal soldier. Iago also succeeds in
deceiving Cassio. After Cassio's drunken fight, Iago encourages him to speak to
Desdemona about trying to convince Othello to reinstate him as lieutenant. While
Iago is talking to Cassio, he knows that this will only help his plan of having
Othello see him with Desdemona. Evidently, Cassio is capable of being deceived
by Iago. In Act II Iago gives a description of his plan of deception in a
soliloquy. Iago describes how the devil uses the appearance of something good to
disguise the various temptations that we know are evil. He tells how he will do
the same while Cassio is begging Desdemona to tell Othello to take him back.
Iago then will start his destructive scheme. The devil also deceives by lying
and twisting the truth. Through deception, Iago creates the appearance of good,
which is what fools the people around him into thinking that he is loyal and
honest. Since Iago is an officer, he already has the appearance of being a good
and honest man. He has an advantage when it comes to keeping that honest look
about him throughout the play. Iago deceitfully organizes his plan to appear
trustworthy to everyone. Iago also uses appearances to create deception. When
Cassio had finished asking Desdemona, in the garden, if she would talk to
Othello for him, he left her presence. Iago and Othello were standing off in the
distance observing them. When Othello asks him if it was Cassio that he saw,
Iago replies “Cassio, my lord! No, sure, I cannot think it, that he would
steal away so guilty-like, Seeing you coming”. He uses that scene to convince
Othello that Cassio looked very guilty when he left Desdemona. Othello proves
this fact later on in the play when he asks for appearance as proof of
Desdemona's deceptive behavior. Othello demands to see it with his own eyes in
order for it to be convincing. Iago then changes the subject and lies to Othello
outright by telling him that he heard Cassio talking in his sleep. He then goes
so far as to say that Cassio was making sexual implications to him while
sleeping. This upsets Othello, showing that Iago's slyness has no limits. The
devil and Iago, both, have a unique way of twisting appearances into looking
like truths. Sometimes this makes it hard to distinguish between the two evils.
Iago has proven to be the essence of evil in that he uses the same tactics that
the devil does to get what he wants. As for Othello, the tragedy would not have
happened if it were not for Iago who was jealous of Cassio’s lieutenant job
and of Othello for being a successful soldier.
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