Shakespeare’s Othello Essay
Othello’s destruction by Iago is inevitable due to a combination of Iago’s plotting and Othello’s character flaws. Iago’s cunning character in Shakespeare’s play has identified Othello’s vulnerability through flaws of jealousy, trust, poor judgement, naivety and love for the fair Desdemona. Iago’s pure hate for the Moor leads to the success of Othello’s downfall through Iago’s manipulative and conniving plotting.
Perhaps without Iago’s clever plotting Othello might have had a chance to communicate with and learn to truly know Desdemona before his weaknesses were ignited. However the reality is that Iago did successfully plot Othello’s downfall and is simply unavoidable with the combination of both the scheming and Othello’s flaws.
Othello’s love for Desdemona is so pure and new that the slightest presumption of dishonesty, planted by Iago, is manipulated and exaggerated to turn Othello’s love for her into madness and murder. Act I, scene ii, 24-28, “For know, Iago, but that I love the gentle Desdemona, I would not my undousèd free condition put into circumscription and confine for the sea’s worth.” He describes the greatness of his love for Desdemona and how he wouldn’t give it up for all the riches in the sea.
The greatness of Othello’s character in the beginning leads the audience to honour him and convinces them he is strong enough to endure the evilness of his tragic fate. His greatness is partly if not solely why Desdemona fell in love with him, Act I, scene iii, 166-167 “She loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them.” She thought he was a great man and thus she fell in with him for his heroic and strong nature. Desdemona is not the only one who admires and acknowledges Othello’s greatness, the Duke, Lodovico, the other soldiers and many more.
It’s not only his heroics and courage that make him great; he is also very respectful, honest, noble and sincere, and these qualities truly portray him to be admired and thus ‘great’. However Iago sees through this strength and breaks him through his love for Desdemona. Just like he says in Act I, scene iii, 365-386, here he first plots against Othello and even admits he will be a great husband and so knows to get his vengeance on Othello through his love for Desdemona.
As mentioned previously Iago’s plotting commences at the end of Act I, throughout the second act he plots and sets up circumstances, such as Cassio’s dismissal as lieutenant, to assist his revenge and scheming, resulting in helping him to gain Othello’s trust.
Othello’s strong will and mind break down during Act III, where his weaknesses are ignited by Iago. During Act II Iago gains Othello’s trust by making Cassio the culprit, therefore throughout Act III Othello’s trust thickens, firing his naivety and his jealousy of Cassio.
At first Othello doesn’t believe Iago, but Iago’s tiny thoughts and assumptions grow on Othello, who begins to suspect his wife of adultery. Othello’s sanity partly withers as he makes comments on suicide, “If there be cords or knives, poison or fire or suffocating streams, I’ll not endure it.” (Act III, scene iii, 388-391). He claims how he won’t believe a thing without “ocular proof” until Iago informs him of Cassio’s ‘dream’ of Desdemona.
With this news the audience can see Othello’s first outburst of a murderous inclination, “I’ll tear her to pieces!” (Act III, scene iii, 33) He Jealousy becomes obvious through that remark and even more so in Act III, scene iii, 272-275. “I had rather be a toad and live upon the vapour of a dungeon than keep a corner in the thing I love for others’ use.”
Here he’d rather live almost in a hell and torturous life than to slightly keep his wife, tainted by others.
Throughout Act III until the end, Othello’s jealousy grows more and more destructive. He cannot talk to or look at his wife normally, he even hits her and Lodovico can see that he is not the same noble character he once was, Act IV, scene I, 255-259, “Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate call all-in-all sufficient? Is this the nature whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue the shot of accident nor dart of chance could neither graze nor pierce?”
Iago has this tremendous plan to seek vengeance on Othello and somewhat Cassio. It is obvious he is trying to create a hell and make all this evil occur, where in fact he just makes them seem real. He doesn’t lie nor tell the truth, he tells Othello what he thinks, the worst lie of all, partly the truth. Act V, scene ii, 175, “I told him what I thought, and told no more.”
Iago knew exactly how to affect Othello by power of speech. He knew that small observations would trigger Othello’s jealousy, and then brushing them off as if they were nothing to worry about, playing the innocent act. This made Othello perceive things differently, with the state of mind that it was true and thus seeing and understanding situations in a jealous perspective. At the beginning of Act III Iago’s ‘observations’ and whispers first get to Othello and change him by the end of the act. He takes a psychological approach to make Othello question Desdemona’s honesty and loyalty.
Iago truly is the villain of this tragedy, the fall of the great Othello. With his conniving scheming he makes it inevitable for Othello to triumph, and in the process ignites all of Othello’s flaws into a burning hell on earth, leading him to madness and murder. His love for Desdemona made him so happy and yet destroyed both hers and his life by the ‘green-eyed monster’. Probably if communication between the two was stronger our hero may have won, if he was not so trusting he may have seen the truth and if Iago had somewhat of a heart and patience, his time for lieutenant may have come, and this tragedy would seise to exist.