Discuss Iagos manipulation of Othellos thoughts in this scene (up to line 280). Your discussion will need to include a careful look at Othellos response to Iagos manipulation, and a look at jealousy

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Sarah King

Discuss Iago’s manipulation of Othello’s thoughts in this scene (up to line 280). Your discussion will need to include a careful look at Othello’s response to Iago’s manipulation, and a look at jealousy as spoken of by both Iago and Othello in this scene.

Jealousy is an overwhelming, intense and all consuming emotion which can sometimes be irrational. It can lead to the manipulation of the person, and take the form of an obsession and can be very powerful. In Shakespeare’s Othello, jealousy and manipulation can be presented in various forms which seem to be having devastating effects on the individual as a whole. It can also be portrayed as something that is uncontrollable and inevitable. In Othello it is evident that the Elizabethan tragedy displays the fall of the ‘noble leader’ who has been deeply affected and consumed by the effects of jealousy, destruction and manipulation.

At the beginning of Act 3 Scene 3, Iago and Othello enter with Cassio, Emilia and Desdemona discussing Cassio’s poor behaviour the night before, with Desdemona reassuring that she will make sure Othello will reinstate his position as lieutenant. Iago enters and quickly remarks ‘Ha! I like that not’ (Act III Scene III line 34) . This language presented by Iago represents the start of his manipulation of Othello, as he suggests he doesn’t like what he is seeing. This then shows the first step of Othello’s questionable state, with repetition of Othello asking ‘Was that not Cassio parted from my wife?’ (Act III Scene III line 37). This suggests Othello’s growing doubts of Cassio.

The next stage displays Desdemona’s pleading to Othello, to talk about Cassio’s situation and for him to be given another chance ‘Why, then, tomorrow night, or Tuesday morn, on Tuesday noon, or night; on Wednesday morn... In faith, he’s penitent’ (Act III Scene III line 60-64) Desdemona unawareness that her pleading will fall back on her as Iago will use this as a hint of her love affair with Cassio. Her on-going appeal starts to annoy Othello. When Desdemona leaves the stage, Othello comments on how much Desdemona means to him ‘But I do love thee; and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again’ such language implies he needs to reassure himself to acknowledge his love for Desdemona.

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Once Iago is alone with Othello, Iago begins his suggestions of an affair between Cassio and Desdemona, by reminding him about Cassio knowing of their love. This triggers a response of uncertainty in Othello. ‘Why dost thou ask? But for a satisfaction of my thought; No further harm. Why of thy thought, Iago?’(Act III Scene III line 95-98) Such language implies that Othello knows Iago is withholding information and it isn’t simply a ‘just wondering’ thought, there’s more to it. Othello becomes slight irritated by having to repeat questions to Iago. Othello then asks Iago whether he believes Cassio is honest, ...

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