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How does Iago convince Othello of Desdemona's Infidelity?

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Introduction

Friday 23/11/01 How does Iago convince Othello of Desdemona's Infidelity? Iago's ability to manipulate people and convince Othello of Desdemona's infidelity is shown in Act III iii. Iago uses his knowledge and power in succeeding to convince Othello that his wife is having an affair with Michael Cassio. Iago is a very passionate character and uses the events that occur in Othello to his advantage, however it is not all down to Iago's actions that he is able to manipulate Othello; the behaviour of other characters in the play helps Iago prove to Othello that Desdemona has been deceitful. Iago's jealousy is generally unstated to anyone, but the audience and his fellow characters have no reason to mistrust him, and so he is able to use them more effectively. The potential problems of Othello and Desdemona's relationship are exploited fully by Iago, who plays on Othello's fears - his insecure position in a white society with a white wife. Iago uses words to twist reality and to create mental images for people, "Behold her topped," III.iii.397 and then he persuades them to accept these as true. ...read more.

Middle

Iago's quick thinking allows him to always be one step ahead. Throughout Othello, we see Iago continuously plotting and scheming "I have use for it," III.iii.321. By using just a handkerchief he gets what he wants. That is why Iago is so clever, whatever he does results in something disastrous and for him to achieve it, is all very simple. Now that Iago has the full trust of Othello, he now has power over him. Othello believes Iago to be his friend, when in fact he is his enemy. However this is part of Iago's monstrous plan to destroy Othello. Iago expresses his need to serve Othello but more importantly it is an expression of Iago's love-hate relationship with Othello. He sees straight away that the only way he can be close to Othello is by destroying those who Othello loves: Cassio and Desdemona. Othello does not return Iago's love and this forces Iago to be goaded into destroying Othello. One of Iago's main advantages is that he knows people and therefore knows their weaknesses. ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago uses Othello's race and age to turn people against him therefore making him less popular in the already racist Venetian society. Othello and Cassio are opposite which is why Othello made Cassio his lieutenant. The bond between Othello and Cassio is symbolized by the way in which Othello makes Cassio his second wife. Othello feels a double injury in his belief in Cassio's deception, for Cassio has both violated Desdemona's purity and violated the bond between himself and Othello. Iago's ability to ingratiate himself with people makes him appear to be the innocent party. Iago's feelings towards Othello contain an erotic component as can be seen in Act III iii, which is when Iago convinces Othello of Desdemona's unfaithfulness and Othello vows revenge. For Othello and Iago love becomes hate, and hate becomes love and the distinction between these two feelings are constantly being blurred. This is shown when Othello symbolically breaks his vows with Desdemona and Iago forms a vow with Othello saying, "I am your own forever," III.iii.480 Iago's use of language is a primary weapon in manipulating Othello. By "pouring this pestilence into his ear," Iago contaminates his thoughts. ...read more.

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