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Why is Iago's manipulation of Othello successful?

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Introduction

Why is Iago successful in his manipulation over Othello? Shakespeare's 'Othello', at first, seems to be centred around a black man in a position of power in a white European society. 'Othello' therefore would seem the obvious and most suitable title. He is the tragic hero; it is the change in him and the aspects of his nature which bring about the fatal consequences. However studying the play in more detail you become increasingly aware of Iago being the main focal point throughout the play. Shakespeare gives more lines to Iago than Othello, and allows us into his thoughts using soliloquies. He does not do this with any other character even the main one, Othello. However, saying this, Othello still contributes to the overall tragic end. Othello's character is used by Iago to make him vulnerable to his manipulative tactics. Various parts of Othello's character are shown through the play both to the audience and Iago which then get used against him. One characteristic that is an example of this is his attitude to having either all or nothing. He shows this when talking about Desdemona 'When I love thee not chaos is come' explaining that if he does not love her it would be a total disaster. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout he manages to links Desdemona and Cassio in the same pieces of dialogue 'He had been acquainted with her.' After this, Iago continues to questions everything Othello says, instead of answering. When Othello asks whether Cassio is honest, Iago simply repeats the word honest with a question mark as if he does not really believe it. He does this again when Othello asks what he thinks, he replies 'think, my lord?' Iago is successful here in building up Othello's temper and making him suspicious that there is something bad in Iago's mind. We can tell that he has been successful in winding him up and worrying him when Othello replies to him, 'Alas, thou echoest me, As if there were some monster in thy thought' Iago may have been echoing the words of Othello, but has managed to shift his own bad thoughts into Othello's mind as he starts using language with imagery such as 'Monster'. Iago controls the conversation throughout and as it goes on Othello has less and less power at one point Othello says to Iago 'I prithee speak to me' almost begging him to tell him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago had managed to get Cassio drunk and start a fight, which evidently got him fired, as Iago had planned. After this however Cassio does not want Othello to forget him, so he asks Desdemona to speak for him to Othello. Out of the goodness of her heart she does so with all of her energy. Cassio then exits as Othello enters, not wanting Othello to see him out of an understandable sense of shame. Othello is provoked by Iago to see this as a guilty departure and convinces him that Desdemona's protests on Cassio's behalf are a sign of her attraction to him. It is very clear, especially at the end of Act 3 scene 3 that Iago has been successful manipulating Othello from completely loving his wife to complete 'Chaos' At the end of At 3 scene 3 Othello, a professed Christian, swears 'by yond marble heaven' that his 'bloody thoughts' will never turn back until a 'wide revenge' has been accomplished. Christian judgement has by this point been perverted so totally by powerful emotions, Iago has been able to work so efficiently through vulnerable emotions and an insecure character to successfully and completely manipulate Othello. This play seems to ask the question that if this can really happen, how secure is any belief or any sense of good? By Amy Smith MiDr ...read more.

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