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Othello - What sort of person is Iago? How does he use his knowledge of Othello to bring about his downfall? Shakespeare

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Introduction

Othello What sort of person is Iago? How does he use his knowledge of Othello to bring about his downfall? By Vaskar Siddique In the play Othello, by William Shakespeare, there are several complex characters. Othello, Desdemona and Cassio are examples of these. However, the most important and the most complex character is Iago. His role in the play is essential for the storyline. He is evil, ruthless and very clever. Apart from these, Iago has a certain power over everybody; he can manipulate people and use their weaknesses to his advantage. It is this talent, and his knowledge of Othello that Iago uses to destroy him. The character who is most deeply affected by Iago's actions and plottings is Othello. There are many different ideas and theories as to why Iago acts the way he does. Even now people still question Iago's motives for destroying Othello. In the play Iago himself suggests many reasons why he brings about the downfall of Othello. In the beginning of the play Iago tells Roderigo one of his reasons for his hatred for Othello (Act 1.1, Line 8-33). He says that he is envious of Michael Cassio's promotion to Lieutenant instead of him. He believes he should have a higher position than being Othello's Ancient. Iago is obviously jealous of this state of affair; however it does not seem to be a sufficient reason for his hatred of Casio and more importantly Othello. ...read more.

Middle

She says "What he will do with it, heaven knows, not I: I nothing, but to please his fantasy." The handkerchief is an important symbol. It was a gift given to Desdemona by Othello that was very important to Othello. Its history is that an Egyptian charmer gave it to his mother. His mother in turn gave it to Othello on her deathbed. Othello gave this handkerchief to Desdemona to show his love for her. The handkerchief is a symbol of the blindness caused by the passions of love. It first enters the play when Othello starts to think that Desdemona had been unfaithful. It is also the main evidence used by Iago to prove that Cassio had been seeing Desdemona. To Cassio, Iago is a friend and a wise advisor. He pretends to be helping him by giving him advice. But Cassio too is being used. Iago gets him drunk on purpose so that he will cause trouble (Act 2.3, Line 60-112) and this eventually gets Cassio dismissed as Othello's Lieutenant. Iago's cunning allows him to appear unwilling to betray Cassio to Othello when in fact has engineered the whole dispute by using his knowledge of Cassio's weakness for alcoholic drinks. The way Iago acts towards Othello is the most important factor to his success in undermining his confidence. The way Iago behaves towards him is crucial in making Othello trust him. He had obviously achieved that, as there is lot of evidence showing Othello speaking about him as "honest". Many times in the play Othello calls Iago "honest Iago". ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago also knows that Othello is an insecure person even though he is a great general. He knows that Othello feels inadequate, as he is a black person in a white world. He uses Othello's self-confidence and state of mind to his advantages. The last scene in the play is very important. It is in this scene in which the story concludes and in which Iago completes his task of destroying Othello. Out of his uncontrollable jealousy Othello kills Desdemona due to Iago's plottings. As Othello hears all of the facts about Iago and the handkerchief, he realises what has happened. He then asks, "Why has thus ensnared my soul and body?" Iago's reply is "Demand me nothing; what you know, you know: from this time forth I never will speak word." (Act V.2, Line 299 - 301). His refusal to speak is very peculiar, however he could have his reasons for it. He might not want anyone to know his reasons for destroying Othello. Consequently it could be because he wants no one to understand him. He also doesn't try to commit suicide, which would save him from the inevitable torturing he would have to endure. Iago is a very clever person and he uses his intelligence to its full in his plan. However he also has a lot of good luck and he uses his opportunities to their best. He is a very fast thinker and is also a devious actor. It is the way he changes his character towards different people that help him succeed. He also uses his knowledge of Othello to bring about his downfall. ...read more.

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