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Why does Othello believe what Iago tells him about his wife?

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Introduction

Why does Othello believe what Iago tells him about his wife? The essay title refers to one of the most important parts of the play, because it focuses on the three main characters with the most controversy Iago, Othello and Desdemona. Iago was able to affect the lives of both Othello and Desdemona. He had direct influence on Othello through his contact and 'relationship' with him, but he causes the death of Desdemona. It is never mentioned whether he intended to kill Desdemona, however he is ultimately responsible for the deaths of Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo, and Othello himself. The deaths were caused through Iago's deceit. It raises the point of whether Iago brings out Othello's jealous side, or whether Iago puts part of himself into Othello through what he tells Othello. One of the main points of play is how Othello changes from a brave, honourable soldier to a conspirator and murderer. Iago is motivated by jealousy. He is jealous of Othello because he believes Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia. He is also jealous of Cassio because Othello made him lieutenant, the post, which Iago believed, he deserved. He used these reasons to seek revenge. Iago tells the audience in one of his soliloquies "I hate the Moor", and he shows his hatred of Othello in the opening scene of the play. Iago refers to Othello as "the Moor", and makes many racist comments about him such as "Barbary horse" and "an old black ram". ...read more.

Middle

"His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift," Desdemona says of Othello; these statements highlight Desdemona's determination to set things right. In this scene, Iago begins his plotting to make it seem like Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. However, Iago refrains from saying very much; "I cannot think it that he would steal away so guilty-like" That is the most incriminating thing he says about Cassio. He makes Othello start to think uneasy thoughts by saying, "I like not that" about Cassio's exit." Iago begins to echo Othello, which makes Othello even more uneasy. He asks questions that are related to the issues at hand, such as whether Desdemona and Cassio have known each other for a while. In Othello's state, he believes Iago's statements of nothing to be a real attempt to hide the truth about what is going on; he does not realize that Iago's statements are all designed to make Othello jealous. "Thou echoest me, as if there was some monster in thy thought, too hideous to be shown" Iago says that he believes Cassio is "honest"; yet again, this word sets Othello off, and Iago's fake uncertainty in his tone makes Othello think that Cassio lies. Iago then asks; "Who has that breast so pure that some uncleanly apprehensions keep leets and law days." Specifically Iago soon addresses jealousy, a major theme, especially with regards to Othello; "It is the green-eyed monster," The "green-eyed monster" becomes a symbol representing Othello's dark feelings, a spectre lurking in his mind and beginning to steer his behaviour. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, by examining the text, it is clear that Othello does not fully recognize Iago's comments until he has doubt about his own importance. He is made to believe that he is inferior because of his colour. He doesn't display signs of mistrust until he has doubts about his own reputation and character. I do not believe that Othello was naturally jealous. I believe that his mind was corrupted by Iago's shrewdness, his apparent honesty and his good fortune with certain events occurring that he could control. He is definitely the 'puppeteer' at the end of the play; he uses his mind games to control his 'puppets', which are the other characters in the play. They were easy to manoeuvre, because they only saw the act that Iago put on for them. The audience knew of Iago's wrong doings, so could see his change in character. His main 'puppet' is Othello, whom he controls so much, that part of Iago is in fact groomed into his own persona. It does appear that Iago brainwashes Othello, which explains why Othello is so easily manipulated. But, this seems impossible, when you consider how strong of a character Othello appears to be at the beginning of the play. It is only when Othello is allowed to have his own doubts that Iago's 'mind games', effect him. In conclusion, Othello did had some doubt as to his wife's faithfulness, his doubts are based on his own insecurities, and he does not show signs of loving her any less. However, his mind is polluted by Iago's sick, twisted games, which like many Shakespeare plays, ended in tragedy. ...read more.

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