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"Explain how Iago persuades Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him in Act Three Scene Three"

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Introduction

Natalie Laverick 13CB "Explain how Iago persuades Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him in Act Three Scene Three" Othello begins Act Three, Scene Three, deeply in love with Desdemona; he refers to her affectionately as an "excellent wretch!" (Line 90), however by the end of the scene he is intent on carrying out murderous revenge on the wife he is convinced has been unfaithful. Throughout the scene Iago uses language and persuasive techniques to implant suspicion in Othello's mind and encourage his jealousy whilst appearing honest and loyal himself. Iago initially places doubt in Othello by making Cassio's exit seem suspicious, "Ha! I like not that...Cassio, my lord? No, sure, I cannot think it, /That he would sneak away so guilty-like, /Seeing you coming." (Lines 35/39-41) he does so to arouse Othello's distrust. To heighten Othello's suspicions that his wife has been unfaithful, Iago uses Desdemona's kindness against her. ...read more.

Middle

By holding back his thoughts and repeating his faith in Cassio's honesty, Iago also appears loyal to whom he maintains is his friend, "For Michael Cassio, /I dare be sworn I think that he is honest." (Line 125-126) This gives Othello no reason to believe Iago is lying about Cassio, as he has no motive to accuse him of seducing Desdemona. By confirming his loyalty and love for Othello, "My lord, you know I love you." (Line 117), Iago encourages him to trust his suspicions and evidence of adultery. Another persuasive technique employed by Iago is reverse psychology. At one point in the scene he advises Othello against exactly what he wants him to do, overreact and become obsessed with suspicion "I am to pray you not to strain my speech/To grosser issues, nor to larger reach/Than to suspicion." (Lines 217-219) Othello claims he is not affected by Iago's doubts however he begins to wonder how people can betray their true natures "I do not think but Desdemona's honest...And yet, how nature erring from itself-" (Lines 224/226) ...read more.

Conclusion

To finally convince Othello that Desdemona committed adultery with Cassio, Iago needs proof and Othello demands circumstantial evidence. Although Othello demands proof that his wife is unfaithful before he will accept it, he seems sure he has lost her before he receives any such evidence, "Haply, for I am black/And have not those soft parts of conversation/That chamberers have; or, for I am declined/Into the vale of years- yet that's not much-/She's gone." (Lines 261-266) he blames his age, skin colour and lack of manners for Desdemona's infidelity. The only proof Iago can provide is a dream he witnessed Cassio having, in which he kissed Desdemona and placed his leg over hers, however this enough to make up Othello's mind that his wife has been unfaithful. He has been fooled by Iago and vows to seek revenge, he can think of nothing but murder "O, blood, blood, blood!" (Line 450) and appoints Iago his lieutenant. Othello has been manipulated and his susceptibility is the fatal flaw which will lead him to his downfall. ...read more.

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