To What Extent Is Iago Responsible for Othello's Downfall

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AS English Literature
Othello Coursework: How far do you agree with Bradley’s view that Iago is wholly responsible for Othello’s downfall?

A.C Bradley, a known literature critic, argues that it is in fact the machinations of the character Iago that is wholly responsible for the downfall of Othello. “..that these worthy people, who are so successful and popular and stupid, are mere puppets in his hands, but living puppets, who at the motion of his finger must contort themselves in agony, while all the time they believe that he is their one true friend and comforter?” It cannot be denied that Iago had played a big part in Othello’s tragic fall, but could Othello’s tragic fall have contributed in destroying the Moor of Venice? Othello’s notable tragic flaw is, as Iago states himself, “The Moor is of a free and open nature”, meaning that he takes people and things at face value, not expecting any hidden vendetta or betrayal. This can be emphasized since Othello was interpreted by Shakespeare as being a soldier since he was seven years old. This would mean that he would expect to recognize his enemy simply by looking at his face, and not expect any attack from his supposed allies. This is where the audience gets the impression that Othello is hopelessly naïve, which can be seen at how he describes the man who hates him the most, “my ancient: A man he is of honesty and trust.” In the following quotation Othello asks Iago to look after his most prized possession: his wife, Desdemona. This moment can be considered significant as it could symbolize Othello placing Desdemona’s and his own life in Iago ’s hands. “Honest Iago, My Desdemona must I leave to thee.” One example of Othello’s tragic flaw leading to his downfall is when he mishears the conversation between Cassio and Iago, and by his own thinking, contemplates murder. “How shall I murder him, Iago?” Although Iago does succeed in convincing Othello to kill Desdemona, there is no quotation before Act 4 Scene 1...
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