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How does Iago manipulate different characters in order to achieve his aims?

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Introduction

How does Iago manipulate different characters in order to achieve his aims? Iago is able to manipulate different characters throughout Othello by appearing to be honest and trustworthy, and using this to make people believe what he is saying is the truth. This means that Iago can tell them what he wants, in order to achieve whatever he desires. Iago is essentially a two-faced character, and it is very ironic when Iago swears, 'By Janus.' (I, 2, 33), as Janus is a two-faced Roman god. The first person that Iago manipulates is Roderigo. Roderigo is blinded by his love for Desdemona, and is prepared to try anything to win her heart. This makes him easy to manipulate, and doesn't require much skill on Iago's part. Roderigo is initially displeased with Iago, as he has paid Iago to promote a marriage between him and Desdemona, but instead Desdemona has gotten married to Othello. However, Iago easily restores Roderigo's faith in him by expressing his hate for Othello. He says things such as; 'Despise me if I do not' (I, 1, 8) when Roderigo asks if he hates Othello. Roderigo is used for his money, Iago tells him repeatedly to 'put money in thy purse' (I, 3, 330). Even when Roderigo threatens Iago, 'assure yourself I will seek satisfaction of you' (VI, 2, 195), he doesn't have the necessary willpower and ...read more.

Middle

Gradually, Iago assumes the control and power we associate with Othello, so successfully that Othello even begins to speak and think like his petty, reductive inferior. Iago makes Othello believe he is loyal, conscientious and noble-minded (ironically Othello's greatest qualities). He pretends that he'd like to hurt Othello's detractors in Act I, Scene 2, seems very anxious about the consequences of the brawl in Act II, Scene 3, and then hesitatingly describes his 'friend' Cassio's part in the evening's events. His show of reluctance in Act III, Scene 3 is also incredibly effective. By pretending that he doesn't wish to divulge his thoughts he manoeuvres himself into a position where he is able to poison Othello's mind thoroughly. Iago has a sharp eye for his victim's weaknesses or flaws and exploits them mercilessly. His role-playing enables him to become stage manager and dramatist, controlling his victim's fates increasingly effortlessly until he is unmasked by his wife, Emilia, whose obedience he ironically took for granted. A prime example of his setting up, directing and then decoding events for his victims occurs in Act IV, Scene 1, when Iago persuades Othello to eavesdrop on his conversation with Cassio. Othello is not only told what to do, he is also told how to interpret Cassio's looks and gestures. ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago is saying that Desdemona is good, as long as Othello thinks she has, further corrupting his mind, which is what Iago wants. However, we have to question what Iago's aims in Othello actually are. He seems at the start of the play, to seek revenge for Othello's appointment of Cassio to lieutenant instead of himself. But, as the play continues, Iago seems to want to punish more people than just Othello and Cassio. By the end of the play, after Iago's many evil acts, we are forced to come to the conclusion that Iago's only aims in Othello are to create chaos, by damaging as many people as he possibly can. The context of when and where the play is performed definitely affects the dramatic of the play. Iago is talking to Roderigo in Act I, Scene 1 at night in the streets of Venice, when there is no one else around, so it makes the scene seem more secretive and suspicious for the audience. Also, during this scene Iago talks exclusively to the audience, revealing his plans. This gives the audience a feeling of what is to come later in the play, however, because Iago is untrustworthy, we as the audience may be forced to question that Iago is telling us the complete truth in his soliloquies, and this mysteriousness heightens the tragic effect of the play. Jonathan Lynch L6DJN ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

*** 3 stars

A good essay which shows understanding of the play and its complexities. Some points are well supported by appropriate quotes but in places more textual references are needed. Likewise more exploration of critical comments.
Shows understanding of dramatic irony and how Shakespeare created this and the audience's responses.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

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