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Why Does Othello Choose To Trust Iago Over Desdemona?

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Introduction

WHY DOES OTHELLO CHOOSE TO TRUST IAGO OVER DESDEMONA? The play Othello, written by Shakespeare is a tragedy, a story of the downfall of a great and noble Moor due to the deception of a villainous man. One of the main themes in the book is trust. Despite the titular character, Othello, being confident of the honesty of Desdemona, as he declares in the beginning, 'My life upon her [Desdemona's] faith', he never seems to fully trust her. He however almost never seems to question anything 'Honest Iago' says. However, this is highly ironic because Desdemona is fully honest whereas Iago is completely devious. So why does Othello choose to trust Iago over Desdemona? Shakespeare shows that they are a multitude of reasons including the fact that Othello is an outsider in society and Iago acts as his tutor, Iago is a master of deception and manages to deceive everyone and Othello is a general and great military leader who is unaware of how to act in a peaceful society. Othello is clearly an outsider in Venetian society despite the fact that he is accepted by all. His race sets him apart both physically, through his black skin, and culturally as a foreigner with an exotic background, as shown by constant references by other characters to Othello as 'the black moor', as well as 'sooty bosom' and 'thick lips'. ...read more.

Middle

He appears to Othello to be loyal to his friends, such as Cassio but honest , 'thy [Iago] honesty and love doth mince this matter' and also when he makes an accusation against Othello's true love, 'This fellow's exceedingly honest.' Never once does Othello seem to question him as he believes that Iago is straightforward and 'honest', something which he repeats till the very end of the play. Desdemona's own trusting and innocent nature plays a part in Othello losing trust in her. She believes that her moor 'is true of mind and made of no such baseness / As jealous creatures are'. As such when she sees a jealous side of Othello, who is clearly obsessed with the handkerchief, she panics and tries to deceive him. The fact that she has already deceived her father in marrying him and that she now tries to deceive him leads Othello to lose trust in her. Later on, when news arrives from Venice, her choice of words is very poor compared to the state Othello is in, 'for the love I bear to Cassio' and 'I am glad on't [Cassio being appointed governor]. This gives more credibility to Iago while making her seem dishonest. Despite the fact that she loves him dearly, she doesn't understand Othello as well as Iago does and so she is not able to gain Othello's trust. ...read more.

Conclusion

He has taken for granted that his place in Venice is secure and his wife under his control. Now his whole self-concept of being a successful, powerful and dominant male is at stake. Othello is impelled to act to save the situation and he believes that Iago is the only one who is acting in his best interests. Therefore, he trusts Iago more than his wife. Another contributing factor is Othello's lack of judgement. Othello has spent most parts of life fighting in faraway lands so he is inexperienced with social interaction. Thus he makes bad judgement about major characters. He continues to trust Iago even when Iago claims, 'honesty is a fool; And loses what it works for,' Othello does not get suspicious. When Emilia claims that Desdemona could not have been unfaithful and 'lay down my soul at stake' for Desdemona's honesty, Othello merely dismisses her as a 'simple bawd.' This lack of judgement leads him to trust the wrong person, Iago. The fact that Othello is an 'honest fool' purports the greatest tragedy. Othello's 'soul is so enfettered' in love for Desdemona that he oft repeated 'I will deny thee nothing' - but ultimately, he denies her life. His ordered universe revolves around his love for Desdemona. He honestly loves her 'too well' and states that 'chaos' will reign 'when I love thee not'. Othello possesses a pure, unconditional, love for Desdemona. The true tragedy of Othello is not the senseless carnage but that Othello must distrust his innocent, unadulterated, love. (1, 412 Words) ...read more.

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