Othello Iago

Othello, Iago’s Successful Infection Of The Moor Essay, Research Paper

In the tragedy Othello, by William Shakespeare the character traits and styles of both Iago and Othello are reverent to the plot and themes of the play. In Act III Scene three, the discussion between the two regarding Desdemona’s fidelity illustrates Othello’s confidence in his relationships with both his wife Desdemona and Iago. That same passage also displays the deceptive conscience of Iago, who is planning to take advantage of Othello’s trust. Othello in particular is the most famous example of William Shakespeare’s ability to form characters like no one else. Combined with his imagination, Shakespeare’s literary style brings to life literature’s most complex tragic characters. Both the theme and plot of Othello revolve around the literary content in conversations like the one chosen.

In Act III scene three, the audience is assured that Othello has utter trust in both his wife Desdemona and his good friend Iago because he speaks with such confidence in them. Othello’s confident style of speech is an example of Shakespeare’s talented use of tragic irony. Through the use of his confident language Othello proclaims that his wife ” had eyes and chose ” ( 2135 ) him because she loved him. He boasts to Iago that these infidelity suspicions are ” exsufflicate and blowed ” ( 2135 ) ; blown out of proportion. The issue of race surfaces when Shakespeare inserts a hint of animal imagery by having the Moor compare himself to a goat. Earlier in the play, Iago refers to Othello as a ” black ram ” and at this point Othello himself suggests that he would merely be a” goat ” if Iago’s supposition is true. The language and style of Othello’s speech is so confident that one could interpret it as being arrogant. The language of this speech is ironic because consequently Othello does lose his sensibility and is controlled by Iago as if he were just as animal. Historically speaking, Othello’s language is ironic because he is the ” Moor “, and in Elizabethan England should be spoken to with such authority. During this period in time minorities had very little power and / or education and were given no respect at all by European society. Relative to the plot, this language is ironic because the all-powerful Moor Othello ends up falling at the hands of Iago and other” white ” Europeans.

The tragedy’s theme of jealousy is foreshadowed throughout the context of Othello’s gallant speech to Iago. Shakespeare’s stylistic use of the literary device of repetition subtly surfaces the jealousy theme in the Moor’s context. The beginning of the passage illustrates Othello’s arrogance when he proclaims that such ” fresh suspicions “( 2135 ) would never cause such a strong witted man as himself to become jealous. The second time Othello mentions jealousy he does so in a humorous context by asking Iago if he should feel jealous about having such an outgoing wife. This comes back to bite Othello because his jealousy of Cassio is fueled by Desdemona’s outgoing personality. The third time he mentions jealousy, Othello foreshadows the end of his marriage by saying ” away at once ” ( 2135 ) upon visual or audible truth of Desdemona’s infidelity. Ironically his mind and sensibility goes ” away at once ” after Iago gives Othello ” proof ” that Desdemona has had an affair with Cassio. Othello believes Iago because after he states ” And on the proof, there is no more but this: away at once with love or jealousy ” ( 2135 ) it is eminent that that proof is Iago’s word. This trust in Iago proves to be one of Othello’s many tragic flaws that consequently lead him to his death.

One of the greatest villains in literary history is Shakespeare’s Iago, from Othello. Iago is the most complex antagonist that Shakespeare’s imagination has formulated. Iago is a downright evil, deceptive, selfish man who cares only for his own personal revenge and satisfaction. After being passed over by Othello for the young, inexperienced Cassio, Iago seeks a bloody revenge. To Iago’s advantage he was known by everyone in Venice including Othello, as an honest man who cared much about the good will of his friends. In the given passage from Act III, Scene three, Iago’s deceptive character traits quietly add to the theme and plot of the tragedy. He pretends to be the ” Honest Iago ” that Othello knows him as by giving Othello respectful warnings about Desdemona. A good example of this fawning is when Iago states that he feels that he is ” bound ” to tell Othello about the horrible affair that he suspects. This entire passage sets the stage for the Iago’s evil conspiracy against Othello. Iago knows that Othello trusts him and it is that trust which Iago is going to use to his advantage. Iago says things like ” I shall have reason to show the love and duty that I bear you with franker spirit ” to be sure that Othello trusts in his every word. This fawning technique used by Iago in this passage proves successful because soon thereafter Othello does believe in every word that Iago says about his wife. Iago takes total control over Othello’s mind by luring him with his words and using the element of trust to his advantage.

In this particular passage, the style of Iago’s speech is very cautious. He is very careful in what he says to the Moor and he is sure to never make a mistake. This entire speech in Act III rolls smoothly from his tongue as he begs his dear friend to ” look to your wife, Observe her well with Cassio ” ( 2136 ). This is cleverly done because it forces Othello to imagine in his own mind the horrible thought of his beloved wife in bed with another man. Intelligently, Iago leaves the possibility of Desdemona’s infidelity open to the mind of Othello by proving to him that ” They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown ” ( 2136 ). This is a subtle warning to Othello about the way that many women of Venice work when they cheat. The reason Iago is so effective is because he leaves Othello hanging with these wretched thoughts. By asking Othello to be careful; ” not jealous nor secure “( 2136 ), Iago is antagonizing Othello by implanting images that he knows he will be able to manipulate and play with in the future. This style of speech used by Iago is so convincing that it is even frightening at times. Consequently, Iago successfully manipulates the mind of Othello and drives him mad with jealousy.

The root of the plays theme of jealousy lies within the character of Iago. The play revolves around his bitterness towards Othello for being passed up. This passing up results in Iago falling into a jealous rage and becoming obsessed with revenge. The given passage from Act III illustrates the obsession Iago has with vengeance because it reveals such a sophisticated element to the drama. This passage is where Iago infects the mind of Othello with jealous thoughts. Although Othello is not yet convinced that Desdemona has cheated, he has now seen her commit an adulterous act with his imagination. Iago uses this to slowly weaken Othello and to make him feel just as jealous as he does. Any sort of visual proof from this point on would be enough to drive Othello into a savage rage. Ultimately Iago’s plan is successful because he deceives Othello with false proof that drives Othello mad. The words in the passage are important, but it is the careful style of Iago’s speech that ultimately extinguishes Iago’s menace Othello.

The theme of jealousy is displayed throughout William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello and is prominent in the selected passage. The death of Othello and the stabbing of Iago prove to Shakespeare’s audience that jealousy drives people to commit both inhumane and unnecessary acts. The theme of jealousy has been touched upon by many authors but was perfected by the artistic imagination of Shakespeare. Iago’s evil, deceptive character has been compared to that of the Snake in the Bible’s ” Garden of Eden. ” Like Iago in Othello, Satan is a jealous antagonist who seeks revenge in The Bible. Iago’s cautious, yet convincing style of speech gains the trust of Othello just like the Snake ( Satan ) gains the trust of Eve in The Garden of Eden. Following these conversations with the ” devil ” one can discern that the tragic flaw of both Othello and Eve is their trusting in the ” devil. ”

Shakespeare, William. ” Othello. ” The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen

Greenblatt, et al. 1st Ed. Vol.1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company

1997. 2091-2174.


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