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Othello the Manipulator

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Othello the Manipulator

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  • July 2011
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Shakespeare’s Othello: Iago, the Master Manipulator

William Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a play consumed with deception, jealousy, and revenge, mainly caused by a powerful “villain” named Iago (1.1.28). Although Iago presents himself as everyone’s honest friend, he is always trying to manipulate and deceive them, as shown in his words “Whip me such honest knaves” (1.1.50). This heartless character even manipulates everyone around him including his companions Cassio, Rodrigo, and the Moor, Othello intending to gain power. His actions create a massive amount of jealousy and rage.

All of this revenge and manipulation first forms when Cassio is chosen for the position as Othello’s Lieutenant, a job which Iago wanted desperately. This sends Iago into a rage motivated by his hunger for power. His revenge towards Cassio first begins at a celebration when Iago pressures him into having one drink after another knowing Cassio has a low tolerance with alcohol. Under pressure, Cassio argues, “Not tonight, good Iago: I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish courtesy would invent some other custom of entertainment” (2.3.1164-1167). Iago’s perfects his manipulation by taking advantage of other’s weaknesses. Iago manipulates both Cassio and Rodrigo into fighting each other which results in Othello taking away Cassio’s title as Lieutenant. Using Cassio’s statement, ”She’s a most exquisite lady” Iago is able to use this to conjure a second mastermind plan to have Cassio’s reputation ruined by convincing Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair (2.2.1152).

Although Iago seeks revenge from Cassio for gaining Iago’s desired position as Lieutenant, his main interest of destruction is the Moor Othello, which is the masterpiece of Iago’s many manipulative plots. Iago uses Othello’s beloved wife, Desdemona, to take advantage of Othello’s weakness. Iago implies, “Cassio my lord? No, sure, I cannot think it; That he would steal away so...