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Essay examining the role of deception in the play, as seen through the action of the main characters: Othello, Iago, and Desdemona. Othello is, at heart, a play about deception, and the emotional turmoil and mental anguish it can cause. Although Iago aptly demonstrates all that is evil through his malevolent manipulation of others, he is not the only practitioner of deception in the play. Othello himself can also be regarded as a study in deception, albeit of a much more subtle variety than that of the gleefully fiendish Iago; for Othello engages in self-deception – less obvious, but eventually just as destructive. Indeed, the only character above reproach is the guileless Desdemona; enmeshed in a web of steel through the deception of others, she nevertheless continues in her sweetly innocent way, ultimately attaining a heroic stature through her refusal, in sharp juxtaposition to Othello and Iago, to blame others for her suffering. Othello is an outsider in Venetian society. He is a black man among white men, and a soldier among civilians. To the Venetians, he is simply ' the Moor' (I,iii,47), a description that neatly encapsulates his state as a foreigner. The term is indelibly associated with negative racial connotations – Iago describes Othello as ' an old black ram' (I,i,88) and ' the devil' (I,i,91), while Rodrigo calls him ' gross' and 'lascivious' (I,i,126). Othello, while unaware of the slanders of Iago, is only too aware of his precious position in the Venetian power structure. Hence, he creates for himself a new identity, a new sense of self that transcends the one-dimensionality of 'the Moor'. He cannot change his origins – although as he lets Iago know (I,ii,19-24) he is descended from 'men of royal siege' - but he can fill his persona with something uniquely Othello, to lose the negative connotations of 'the Moor' and create for himself a unique identity. He attempts this in his wooing of Desdemona – his new identity is the ' story of (his) life'...
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