The Effects of Iago's Meddling on Othello

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Othello’s negative portrayal of himself as a man and Desdemona as a wife illustrates a downward trend in his both his trust of Desdemona and his self-confidence as a result of the schemes of Iago. Iago has been attempting to indoctrinate Othello with the belief that his wife, Desdemona, has been cheating on him with Cassio for some time but it is only recently that Othello has begun to doubt the fidelity of Desdemona. Just two scenes earlier, at the start of Act III, Othello told Iago that he did not believe Desdemona would ever be unfaithful and refused to postulate anymore about the matter unless further evidence was presented. Still basing his suspicion only on the words of Iago, Othello is now all but convinced of Desdemona’s perfidiousness. He speaks highly of Iago calling him a “fellow of exceeding honesty” while speaking of his relationship with Desdemona with disdain, referencing the “curse of marriage.” Othello also uses falcon imagery to describe Desdemona’s suspected infidelity: “If I do prove her haggard, though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings, I’d whistle her off and let her down the wind To prey at fortune.” His use of the word “prey” styles Desdemona as nothing more than a savage, feral beast; a description much different than his prior references of his wife. Othello also describes how he would not hesitate to “let her down the wind” if he ascertained Desdemona had been disloyal, another falcon metaphor that again designates Desdemona a bird of prey: a fiendish and deleterious huntress. Othello also demonstrates his doubts of his wife’s fidelity with declarative, potent words like “curse,” “plague,” “destiny unshunnable,” and “death” to describe marriage and women having affairs. At the end of his speech he uses yet another powerful verb, “Even then this forkèd plague is fated to us when we do quicken.” His use of such powerful language throughout the speech is yet another indication of his loss of trust in Desdemona’s purity.

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