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In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago character stays the same throughout but Othello’s does not. How and why does this happen?

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In Shakespeare's Othello, Iago character stays the same throughout but Othello's does not. How and why does this happen? Othello's character undergoes a dramatic transformation, the man of calm integrity seen at the beginning of the play deteriorates into a man infected with ideas of revenge and death. This essay will focus on the attitudes and relationships between the central characters and the mistrust that is apparent as the play progresses. Othello is the protagonist of this tragedy who can be solely described as the tragic hero of the play. Aristotle defined a tragic hero as a person who moves from the highest point to the lowest. Othello was once referred to as the saviour of the Venetian state but later appeared to be a mentally disturbed murderer whose mistrust and jealousy for Desdemona brought about his downfall. A common finale in Shakespeare's plays is having the central character killed in a bloody and violent fashion. In plays such as Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet a death occurs early on in the play which triggers off conflict between the central characters. The death at the beginning of Othello is that of principles and trust, the kind, loving soldier within Othello dies and a new violent man is born. Othello's race is a source of tension in the play, in Act 1 Scene 1 Roderigo and Iago discuss 'The Moor' and all references to him appear derogatory. They conjure up a false image of him mocking him for his unfair choice of lieutenant, ultimately displaying jealousy and racism towards Othello. Brabantio's rude awakening by Roderigo and Iago is a racist section of the play. Brabantio is informed that his daughter has eloped with Othello a disobedience so shockingly unnatural to Brabantio that it's obviously due to charms and chants used in witchcraft by 'the sorcerer' Othello. The strong racist perceptions of Othello continue throughout the play, he remains an outsider who is accepted by only a few characters as a important military figure and a respected individual. ...read more.


Lodivico is astounded by Othello's actions 'My lord, this would not be believed in Venice'. The citizens of Venice would indeed dismiss this act as completely out of character. The 'old' Othello died when he left Cyprus a 'new' violent man took his place. Act 3 Scene 4 discusses the key to the plot of the play, Desdemona's handkerchief. Desdemona dismisses the idea of the lost handkerchief and pursues the matter of Cassio's dismissal. The persistent talk of Cassio enrages Othello and eventually so overcome by anger demands 'The handkerchief.' Other than the battlefield Othello has never acted in such a harsh and offensive fashion towards Desdemona. This abrupt change in character scares Desdemona especially when remembering the public display of affection he showed her previously. It is ironic that Othello speaks of the 'Magic in the web' of the handkerchief as he is reverting back to the magical stereotype suggested about himself in Act 1 Scene 2. Under Iago's influence, Othello is changing, the handkerchief symbolising the darkness and evil in Othello. I believe that the missing handkerchief is more proof concerning the jealous nature in Othello. Othello is extremely quick to believe ill of Desdemona in Act 3 Scene 3 Line 289 Desdemona uses the handkerchief to bind Othello's aching head. It is in the same scene line 433 where Iago claims that the handkerchief is in Cassio's clutches. 'Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief spotted with strawberries in you wife's hand?' Does Othello really believe that Cassio could have got the handkerchief in such a short space of time? I believe that this only confirms Othello's jealous nature, a trait that wasn't evident at the beginning of the play. Has Iago influenced Othello into his way of thinking? The women lack power and importance in Othello, Desdemona who is perceived as a loyal wife is stripped of her respect by Othello. ...read more.


Emilia disobeying her husband was not anticipated by Iago he clearly misjudged her thinking her to be foolish and weak. Iago didn't believe Emilia would be able to outwit him but if truth be told Emilia can be described as the female equivalent of Iago. Emilia is not prepared to be taken for granted and Shakespeare was one of the first writers to portray women as clever, crafty and in some respects equal to men. Iago is constantly being let down by those close to him and it is this that triggers his plans of brutal murder. This play is full of sexual betrayal and it is this factor that brings about a change in Othello, kills Roderigo and reduces Iago to murder. In conclusion, my essay illustrates that Othello does indeed undergo a change in character. His character transforms from that of a loving husband and honourable soldier to a man possessed by jealousy, hatred and bloody revenge. However, one could argue that Othello's insecurities concerning his background have always played a part in his make-up. Iago realising his gullibility and weaknesses feeds on them to suit his own purposes. Could it be that in a difficult situation Othello will always act in a malicious and deadly fashion? It is significant that after murdering his wife he reverts back to being the Othello that is respected in Venice. His suicide proves that he has realised his wrong doings and his only cause of action as an honourable man is to die under his sword. In Iago's case whilst the character's see him as an 'exceedingly honest fellow' the audience through his soliloquies see him for his true worth. Iago is a devious manipulator who has little regard for anyone apart for himself. In my essay I have likened Iago to that of a angel and a devil, a man who changes his personality to suit his purpose. In conclusion, to a certain extent I would support the argument that Othello's character changes but Iago remains constant. ...read more.

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