Othello and Iago Character Study

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Othello Study
Othello (The Character)
* The character of Othello is in many ways a paradox.

* He simultaneously experiences deep and passionate love as well as terrible and violent hatred; he is a rootless “stranger/Of here and everywhere” who the world defines by his ethnicity, “Moor”; and, he is a man called “noble” who commits the most horrendous of sins, murder.

* At the heart of these contradictions is a black man trying to fit into a white society, and it is these weaknesses and anxieties which result from Othello’s attempts at assimilation, which Iago manipulates to his own ends.

* Othello’s feelings of insecurity are certainly not unjustified. Everyone around him, even the one he loves, still see him to be- and refer to him as- a moor. Indeed Desdemona herself admits that she “saw Othello's visage in his mind” (I.ii). This implies that Desdemona was not initially attracted to Othello and had to look past his looks in order to fall in love with him.

* Brabantio also alludes to Desdemona’s initial repulsion of Othello when he remarks in amazement “To fall in love with what she feared to look on!”. (I.ii.) It is on this extremely sensitive point that Iago begins his manipulation in act 3, scene 3.

* He starts off by hinting that he knows more than Othello about the ways of the Venetian people, he says “I know our country disposition well”(III.iii), subtly reminding Othello of his difference and isolation. He then reminds Othello of Brabantio’s claim that Desdemona was initially repulsed by him as he says “she seem’d to shake and fear your looks”(III.iii). Othello acknowledges this point remarking “And so she did”. This is a clear sign that Othello’s faith in Desdemona begins to erode. Picking up on this anxiety, Iago then exploits it further by implying a sexual perversion in Desdemona and Othello’s union when he says Desdemona has “a will most rank”(I.iii) and...
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