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How Does Iago Successfully Manipulate Othello in Shakespeare

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Introduction

How Does Iago Successfully Manipulate Othello in Shakespeare's Play Othello? July 25th 2006 Playwright William Shakespeare wrote "The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice", or "Othello" for short in the year 1603 and it is believed that it was first performed in 1604 in Elizabethan England, though these dates are approximate due to Shakespeare not publishing his plays during his lifetime. Othello was written as a play to be performed to roughly two to three thousand people in theatres such as the Globe Theatre in London. The story of Othello is believed to have come from a collection of stories known as 'The Hundred Tales', written by an Italian author by the name of Girladi Cinthio in 1566. Shakespeare edited the plot into a story that would fit his own personal style for dramatic purposes. The story was edited to make the theme, like many of Shakespeare's works of the time, Tragedy. The play is split into five Acts containing a various Scenes in each act, and is set in two places; first Act One is set in Venice, and Act Two-Five in Cyprus. The play tells the story of two lovers, Othello, a black Moor (Turk) and his wife, Desdemona a white Venetian woman, torn apart by Iago who manipulates many people throughout the play in order to seek vengeance. The story begins in the city of Venice in Italy where it is discovered by Iago and his friend Roderigo that Othello had promoted Cassio to the position of Othello's lieutenant instead of Iago. Iago is very angry at this and wishes to seek revenge on Othello for not promoting him. Iago tells Roderigo "I follow him to serve my turn upon him" meaning that Iago will continue to serve Othello, but only in order to achieve his revenge. The two men then focus on Roderigo's problem, his undivided love for Desdemona. ...read more.

Middle

Iago's wife, Emilia, sees this handkerchief and picks it up as, coincidentally; her husband had asked her to steal that very handkerchief for him. Iago returns to discover that his wife had found the handkerchief that he had so often sought. He is extremely grateful and again informs the audience (as if talking to himself) that he will plant it in Cassio's chambers in order to confirm Othello's suspicion that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. Shortly after, a still enraged Othello returns and tells Iago of his misery and pleads "Honest Iago" for evidence of the suspicions Iago had created. Iago, seeing Othello's weakness and a great opportunity claims that he heard Cassio utter phrases in his sleep including, "Sweet Desdemona, let us be wary, let us hide our loves...Cursed the fate that gave thee to the Moor". Othello lusts for visual proof so cleverly Iago remarks that he may have seen Cassio wipe his brow with that very same handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona as a token of his love. On hearing this information Othello's blood boils to a state beyond sanity. In this rage, he orders Iago to have Cassio killed within three days, promotes Iago to the position of his lieutenant and tells Iago of how he will kill Desdemona for her treachery. Despite Othello believing his seemingly honest friend Iago, he does seek his own proof that Desdemona had given Cassio the handkerchief. He claims to be feeling ill and asks to use that same handkerchief. Desdemona cannot find the handkerchief but swears it is not lost. She does not say it is lost, most probably as she does not wish to hurt Othello's feelings, but this in itself incriminates Desdemona and further fuels Othello's suspicions. Othello is enraged even further by this 'proof' and leaves Desdemona's company. Cassio appears and again pleads Desdemona to meet with Othello and plead for his reinstatement as lieutenant. ...read more.

Conclusion

Luckily for Iago, despite these second thoughts that Othello has, he plays to Othello's weaknesses perfectly, culminating in his jealousy overpowering his love for Desdemona. Desdemona herself plays into the hands of Iago in order to aid his manipulation of Othello. She seems to be a free spirit and independent thinkers in a male-dominated society which Othello knows, as she had disobeyed her father's will by marrying Othello. The fact that Desdemona is such a free spirited thinker combined with her young, sexual and slightly frivolous nature again fuels Othello's new-found suspicions. Cassio is the object of Iago's accusation. Desdemona is accused of cheating on Othello with him. Iago manipulates the weakness of his susceptibility to alcohol causing him to start a fight early on in the play, causing Cassio's demotion as lieutenant. Iago also manipulates Cassio's charming nature and handsome appearance in order to make Othello jealous of Cassio as he seems to be the perfect white, charming, Venetian war hero whilst Othello is not. Roderigo is used by Iago throughout the play to do Iago's dirty work. He often toys with Roderigo's foolishness which demonstrates his first class manipulative abilities, such as when Iago uses him to kill off Cassio. Despite Iago's true brilliance in executing such a long, complicated, manipulative plan he could not have done it without the coincidence of his wife obtaining the handkerchief. It was a complete accident that Desdemona lost her husbands token of love but it was of course Iago's manipulation of his wife that resulted in it being obtained by Iago and used to bring about the downfall of Othello's marriage. In conclusion, Iago manipulates Othello as well as manipulating many other people in order to manipulate Othello. Iago makes others, especially Othello believe he is honest and loyal which makes him able to deceive Othello more readily. Iago manipulates Othello by taking advantage of Othello's naturally jealousy and belief that he is not worthy of Desdemona. Chris Stanley 10IRW 1. ...read more.

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