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In Which way does Iago manipulate characters and contribute To their downfall in Shakespeare's play Othello?

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Introduction

Helen Russell 112 In Which way does Iago manipulate characters and contribute To their downfall in Shakespeare's play Othello? Othello is a Venetian tragedy based on love and jealousy, and eventually destroyed by murder and revenge. Originally from a collection of Italian tales by Giraldi Cinthio, published in Venice in 1556. Shakespeare took one of his stories, called 'The Story of Disdomona of Venice and The Moorish Captain', and used his extraordinary talent to adapt Cinthio's subtle and long-winded story into a radical parallel of its original to become a sensational, dramatic play. Cinthio's version allowed several months for the moor to become suspicious, but Shakespeare sped up the process into weeks to add dramatic effect and make the story-line more plausible. In the Italian version, Iago kills Othello because of his love for Disdomona, but Shakespeare made it so that Iago manipulates Othello into killing her, framing Cassio as her lover, because Othello gave Cassio the job Iago wanted. In Shakespeare's play, the main problem was with the effects of jealousy between a moor and his wife. Othello's marriage was already vulnerable after eloping to marry in secret due to harsh racism of the times. Iago and his devious tactics make an already bad situation worse. He is resentful that although he has all the skills and experience to be Othello's lieutenant, Cassio is chosen instead, and Iago begins his deceitful plan to make Othello question Desdemona's allegiance. On their belated wedding night, Iago gets Cassio very inebriated with the intention of weakening Othello's reliance in him. Iago then steals a handkerchief from Desdemona of particular sentimental value into Cassio's lodgings, and inevitably, Othello finds out and assumes Desdemona gave it to Cassio as a sign of their lust for each other, and decides to kill her so she wouldn't be able to betray another man in the way he had betrayed him. ...read more.

Middle

On the night that Othello and Desdemona are consecrating their marriage, Cassio is supposed to be guarding their room, but Iago campaigns to manipulate Cassio with wine. 'Come lieutenant, I have a stoup of wine.' Although Cassio tries to resist temptation, Iago's proposals persist. In a soliloquy, Iago expresses his determination to make Cassio 'as full of quarrel and offence' as a dog. Following this, at the end of the soliloquy, Iago once again uses rhyming couplets to add to the sophisticated image he is attempting to portray. 'If consequence do but approve my dreams, my boad sails freely both with wind and stream.' Cassio eventually gives in, and Iago succeeds in getting Cassio very drunk and unaware of his actions. Following this, Iago takes the intoxicated Cassio to see Montano, Othello's superior, in an act to embarrass Othello further still. The sight of Cassio and a few well-chosen words from Iago are enough for Montano to think that Othello surely can't be a very good judge of character for appointing such a man as his lieutenant. 'I fear the trust Othello puts him in.' This is an example of Ethos, because Iago is using his authority to influence Montano's opinion of Cassio. Following this get-together with Montano, Roderigo follows some orders Iago previously gave him and starts a fight with Cassio, which, in his alcohol-influenced frame of mind, is less than difficult. 'I'll beat the knave into a twiggen-bottle...I'll knock you o'er the mazzard.' By the time the fight really gets going, Othello is disturbed and comes out to find out what happened. 'Give me to know how this foul rout begin.' When Othello asks Iago what went on, Iago refuses to say. 'I had rather had this tongue cut from my mouth than it should do offence.' This is dramatic irony, because Othello then thinks that Iago is really trustworthy and loyal, when in fact he is totally the opposite; only pretending to be a friend as to keep up the act and to make sure his plan of revenge succeeds. ...read more.

Conclusion

'I must weep, but they are cruel tears. This sorrow's heavenly, it strikes where it doth love.' Desdemona wakes, and tries to convince him of her innocence, but its to no avail so she lets him smother her in her bed. Eventually, Emilia comes to speak with Desdemona, and realising Othello's crime, she alerts others and the truth of Iago's scam is revealed. By this time, Roderigo went to kill Cassio, and he stabbed him, to which Cassio retaliated, and they both bleed to death. Iago kills Emilia after she alerted everyone of his guilt, and Othello kills himself after knowing that his wife was innocent after all, and that he killed her for a crime she did not commit. This just leaves Iago, whom is dealt with by Lodovico, the kinsman of Brabantio. Lodovico makes an angered speech to Iago, the only one left following Othello's suicide. 'O Spartan dog...look on the tragic loading of this bed. This is thy work...to you...remains the censure of this hellish villain; the time, the place, the torture.' For his part in the downfall of Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, and his wife Emilia, Iago is sentenced to a lifetime of torture. To conclude my coursework, Iago used manipulation and deceit for the most part of him contributing to the tragedy. Although Iago must have had a highly intelligent and complex mind to be able to control the thoughts and reactions of so many people without his plan being discovered, he used his intelligence for the wrong reasons and was ignorant to the consequences of his actions. His obsession about a position as lieutenant rapidly came an obsession for revenge, and he made no attempts to control himself and his actions, and made no attempts to right his wrongs any step along the way. I think that once Iago was sucked into the complexity of wanting revenge on Othello, it didn't matter to him what he had to do to get it or who he destroyed by doing so. ...read more.

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