Othello: Iago Makes Othello Believe His Wife Is Having An Affair Essay, Research Paper
Othello: Iago Makes Othello Believe His Wife Is Having An Affair
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 demise. More
importantly, Iago gives Othello the motive to murder his own innocent wife
Desdemona, satisfying Iago’s immense 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.381-383). 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.383-385). Iago is so exceedingly paranoid and insane that he
will go far as murdering, and deluding even a general into murdering his wife.
Iago simultaneously conducts a devious plan to obtain Cassio’s position
as lieutenant, using Desdemona’s prime 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.242-244). It was therefore understandable
that he would fall to the mercy of Iago, completely oblivious to the inevitable
effects. Iago reveals his plan to the reader in his third soliloquy when he
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 her credit with the Moor (II.iii.330-350).
The first instance of this plan comes to life in the scene where Iago
gets Cassio drunk, but the crafting only begins after Cassio is dismissed by
Othello. With Cassio’s reputation squandered, Iago subsequently hooks in Cassio
by taking advantage of the fact that he is in a state in which he would do
anything to acquire his job, position, and reputation back. Iago guides him to
seek 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. 304-310). Iago knows
Desdemona is extremely 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. Furthermore, the more he refuses
Desdemona’s wishes, the more she pleads, thereby creating an inescapable knot
that never ceases to tighten around all three characters. For his plan to
successfully work; however, Iago first had to carefully gain trust from all of
the characters. Being a master of deception, this was not very difficult. The
declarations of love he spoke so strongly of throughout the play was enough to
fool everyone: “I think you think I love you…”"I protest, in the sincerety of
love and kindness…” Evidently he does deceive 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 imposes upon Othello and Cassio easily
set a notion to either of them of the possibility that he could ever set either
of them up in such a profound and disgraceful manner. The irony of all this is
throughout the open declarations of love, Iago is deceiving them . One is
therefore left to question the naivety and innocent nature of each character;
Iago’s beloved wife, Emilia, is the one who eventually unravels her
husband’s masterful plan in the ultimate scene, but it is already too late, for
Iago has gained his revenge with the murder Of Desdemona by Othello. Another
irony is when she fails to connect the persona she described; after Othello
strikes Desdemona, with the persona of her husband:
I will be hanged if some eternal villain,
Some busy and insinuating rogue,
Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office,
Have not devised this slander; I’ll be hanged else (IV.ii.128-132).
The relationship between Iago and Emilia is very vague. She doesn’t seem
to know her husband very well and neither does he, she. This is due to Iago’s
animal like attitude to love and life. He is very individualistic, concerned
with only himself and his needs. He is very self-centered, and this is made
evident in the first scene when he shouts to Brabantio:
…an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe…”(I.i.87-93)
…you’ll have your
daughter covered with a Barbary horse; you’ll have your
nephews neigh to you, you’ll have coursers for cousins,
and jennets for germans (I.i.109-116).
The constant metaphoric association of animals and humans in this way
portray’s’s Iago’s bestial attitude to sex.
The relationship between Iago and Emilia is masterfully contrasted by
Shakespeare with the relationship between Othello and Desdemona, who openly
express their love and passion for each other:
Othello: O my fair warrior!
Desdemona: My dear Othello!
Othello: It gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me. O, my soul’s joy (II.i.175-180)!
Perpetual love and affection and contrasted with lusting animal attraction. What
does Iago feel when he sees Othello and Desdemona together? How his mind must
associate the same atmosphere with Othello having had an affair with his wife,
enticing the “green-eyed monsters” within him.
The feelings Iago feels is common jealousy. But to have it without
surety, and to take it to such a great extent as to only describe it as being
“mad.” 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 That is not to say Othello is not a compelling and flawless
character. Generally, it can be said that is more the function of our
imagination and understanding of our own nature through which we determine Iago
as who he is.