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"Iago is the cunning villain of the play Othello; he cleverly manipulates the characters in order to achieve his aims. Discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago and the audience's response to the characters."

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Introduction

"Iago is the cunning villain of the play Othello; he cleverly manipulates the characters in order to achieve his aims. Discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago and the audience's response to the characters." Iago is one of the most complex and interesting characters in this play. He is in the Venetian army and is General Othello's trusted aide. He is married to Emilia, who is Desdemona's' (Othello's' wife) care taker. Iago is well acquainted with Othello, Rodrigo Cassio and Desdemona, and hence all these puppets are infected by his evil manipulations. Iago uses several linguistic and psychological techniques to achieve his ends. Now I shall discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago, his manipulating techniques, and how the audiences respond to his portrayal. The time, in which this play is set in, the Venetian society is racist against coloured people. The role of women of Desdemona's status was not equal to that of the men. They were the properties of their fathers, to be sold into marriage, and interracial relationships were considered disrespect to the family. They were meant to be innocent virginal, saintly souls. Many themes are introduced into the play Othello, which mostly compare the contrasts in life. There is Darkness and Reality, Appearance and reality, Love jealousy and hatred. ...read more.

Middle

We can see by this that Iago is using these racist words to make other characters hate Othello, which is very cunning, because it brings down his reputation as an honest and noble man. Also the audience would have probably shared these prejudiced thoughts by Iago, and hence approved of the villain, which is rare for Shakespeare's range of stories, where he usually makes the hero approved by the audience. Iago is an expert judge of character, which gives him an advantage. One example where he utilizes this example is with Roderigo where he knows how madly in love he is for Desdemona, and acts as if he is helping her in making Desdemona his, when he is actually fooling him into giving him money for a job he is not doing. Cunningly Iago says even says that 'thus do I ever make my fool my purse' where Roderigo is the fool, and by manipulating this fool he is making money to add to his purse. Iago is portrayed by Shakespeare as an opportunist. One example would be when Cassio is asking for Desdemona's help for reuniting him with Othello, but then when Iago and Othello come, he walks off to avoid confrontation. Iago, knowing Othello's greatest weakness to be Desdemona. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hence he persuaded him into drinking, and making him get into a fight, which led him to be fired from his position by Othello. Not only does Iago disgrace Cassio, he also tells Cassio to go to Desdemona to solve his problem, and that she will help because she has a good heart: 'she holds it a vice in her goodness not to be more than a requested' Iago later turns the encounter into what seems as a secret affair between Desdemona and Cassio, which does not please Othello at all. In conclusion Iago is portrayed by Shakespeare as an extremely cunning, jealous, subtle, sadistic racist, motiveless and manipulative devil-like human being. Who jumps at the opportunity to use anything to help him reach his goals, which in to destroy Othello, his relationships, and the friends who surround him. Iago symbolizes evil in everyway, though not the typical evil of brute anarchical strength, but the tactful evil which is much more productive with its method, to psychologically destroy a person through preying on their weaknesses. The audience's response to this portrayal ranges from interest, awe, shame and disgust. Iago interests the audience with his plans and how he implements them, he awes the audience with the magic like power he has to manipulate characters to their own destructions, and Iago disgusts the audience by how he revels in his destructive plans, and the anarchy he implements. ...read more.

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