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Iago Persuade Othello To Kill His Wife English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1730 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Throughout Othello play,one central theme of the play is the major contrast of doubt versus trust. For whatever reason, Othello’s trust of Desdemona is too weak to resist Iago’s accusations. Othello’s heart tells him that Desdemona loves him; however the critical Iago can dismantle Othello’s trust in his wife by planting seeds doubt through what appears to be rational proof. Having built Othello’s curiosity about Cassio’s supposed thoughts; Iago manipulates Othello into seeing a situation between Desdemona and Cassio that does not exist. Because Othello suspects that Iago is aware of more details than he is telling, he begins questioning Iago. “Why of thy thought?”, “What dost thou think?”. The superficially answered questions cause Othello to make demands for further clarification: “If thou dost love me, show me thy thought”, “give thy worst of thoughts the worst of words” then “By heaven, I’ll know thy thoughts!”. Due to Othello’s equating of Iago’s thoughts with factual knowledge, he is eager to mistrust Cassio and does not fully scrutinize the evidence. It is because he trusts Iago that he trusts the false “facts” and doubts the virtue of his wife

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Reputation is very important to “Othello: The Moor of Venice”. Iago’s reputation as an honest man, Othello’s reputation as a just hero, Cassio’s changing reputation throughout the play, and Desdemona’s reputation play a key role in the outcome of the play. Throughout the play, Iago is thought to be honest and a good advisor. We often see “honest Iago “, or in Othello’s words” this fellow’s of exceeding honesty”. None of the characters in the play knows what Iago is really up to, and they blindly trust him and accept his advice. Thanks to his reputation, he manipulates Othello’s feelings and reasoning, destroys Cassio’s reputation, and also manages to get Othello to kill Desdemona. Iago says it himself when he is talking to the audience “when devils will the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows “. Without his reputation as an honest man, Iago would have never been able to do any of those things. Othello’s reputation as a serious and just military general plays a big role in this play. Without this reputation, he would have probably offered Desdemona a chance to explain what happened, and would have probably made the story have a happy ending. Because this is a tragedy, we need Othello to feel pity and fear for the hero, as he does not know what kind of a trap he is in. He values his reputation a lot, and fearing that Desdemona has made him a cuckold proves that. He is so obsessed with keeping his reputation, that he is even ready to kill his own wife for it. This makes him so blind that he gets entangled in Iago’s web of deceit, just like a helpless fish in a net.

The reputation of Cassio changes throughout the play. He turns from a very honourable and respectable lieutenant of Othello, to losing his lieutenancy and being considered an irresponsible alcoholic. “Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestialÂ…” these are Cassio’s words about losing his reputation. It is essential to the play that Cassio loses his reputation, -and with it, his lieutenancy-, because it brings him and Iago closer together, and initiates the chain of actions that lead to Desdemona’s death. Cassio lost Othello’s trust, and this actually made it possible for Iago to try to let it look like he and Desdemona are “making the beast with two backs”. Cassio, after following Iago’s advice, tries to get back his military title and Othello’s trust through Desdemona, but this makes the situation even worse. Desdemona is considered a sincere, kind, and above all, an honest wife and woman in general. She is like a model of the perfect woman of that time. We can find proof in her honesty when she and Emilia are talking about infidelity, and Desdemona’s words are “Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong for the whole world.” . She is very honest and sincere, and that makes her naïve and vulnerable. When she is first accused by Othello, she does not realize the extent of Othello’s jealousy, and instead of explaining thoroughly to him what has happened, she expects Othello to get to the right track by himself. Instead of explaining to Othello that she has lost it, she just tries to change the topic, and later links Othello’s behaviour to “something, sure of state, hath puddle his clear spirit” . Desdemona is the last frontier between Iago and Othello, and Iago puts everything at stake to ruin her reputation. In this play, reputation is regarded as the most valuable part of a person; it is even regarded as immortal. In order for this play to be what it is, every character’s reputation is important, as without even just one of the characters, especially without the main characters, the play would be dull and boring.

Some men die for glory, some men fight for love, and one man lived for revenge. His was the soul of a trader. His name was Iago. The opportunity that he seized changed all of their lives forever. He was on a conquest for power and nothing was going to stand in his way. Iago is the most complex and most disturbed of all characters in Othello. His character is one that feeds on power and is willing to do anything to get it. His entire scheme begins when the “ill-suited” Casio is given the position of Lieutenant, a position he felt like he deserved. Iago deceives, steals, and kills to gain that position. He not only wants that position, he wants it all. From the beginning of the play until the very end he causes conflicts which result in the deaths of Desdemona, Othello, Roderigo, and Emilia. In the beginning Iago is very angry at Othello for making Casio his lieutenant. His first motive is jealously. We then hear a conversation between Iago and Roderigo. After they woke Desdemona’s father they exit the scene and in Iago’s soliloquies he says “Though I do hate him as I do fell pains/ Yet it is necessity of present life/ I must show out a flag and sign of love/ Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him/ Lead to the Sagittary the raised search, And there will I be with him. So farewell”. This part of his soliloquy is the beginning of how he’s using foreshadowing and tells the audience how it’s going to look in the end. He now has Roderigo’s attention and a small piece of a big puzzle has been planted.

We see early in the first act that Iago is a manipulative villain that lacks any conscious decision making. At this point in the play Iago has planted the seeds and now wants to see how far he can persuade Roderigo and how he can use his persuasion and manipulation to become more powerful. He now has Roderigo fooled and tells him “Desdemona is directly in love with him” referring to Casio. Roderigo doesn’t believe what he says at first but Iago again persuades and manipulates his ignorant mind. He tells him lies and stories to fill his mind with discus, making him negative towards Casio. Iago’s motivation throughout the play was power. He did anything and everything while on his conquest to glory. Othello, Desdemona, Roderigo, Cassio, and Emilia were all innocent victims. None of them did any wrong to anyone. Iago was a very good brain washer. He set up the illusions and everyone fell for them. He was the only person on his own mind and power is what he was looking for.

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Othello’s stature as a tragic hero is severely compromised by the alacrity with which he turns against his wife, and by his failure to achieve any real self knowledge. Othello’s stature as a tragic hero is severely compromised by the speed and ease with which he turns against his wife, and by his failure to achieve any real self knowledge. We witness the character of Othello fall from a position of control in Venetian society due to a combination of different reasons. Othello has a deep self-love for himself, and it is because of this he turns against his wife Desdemona with a great speed and ease. A traditional tragic hero’ portrays four major characteristics: firstly, the tragic hero is a figure of high standing/esteem in the community; secondly, there is an agency that leads to the fall of the hero whether within the hero himself or from an outside figure/source; the third characteristic is a moment of self-realisation or self-awareness and the last characteristic is that the fall of the hero results in death.

The use of imagery and metaphors is significant in conveying meaning as it helps to establish the dramatic atmosphere of the play and reinforce the main themes. Through this, the audience is able to grasp a better understanding of the play. Many references are made to animals in the play. Iago uses beast imagery to express his contempt and to downgrade those he despises. Early in Act 1, he rouses Brabantio’s anger by using crude images of animals fornicating to inform him that his “daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.” Such a metaphor is designed to evoke a strong emotional response. Throughout the play, the contrast between black and white is also used as a metaphor for the difference between Othello and the Venetian society. Several references to Othello as “an old black ram” and “far more fair than black” indicate that even though he holds the distinguished position of a general, the fact that he is black still makes him the ‘outsider’. Through the use of imagery and metaphors, Shakespeare is able to generate a considerable impact on the audience positioning them to recognise the full extent of the tragic outcome as a result of Iago’s treachery. The use of these vivid images and comparisons effectively defines the nature of each character and explores central themes such as deception, race and jealousy.


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