Who or what is responsible for the tragedy in Othello?
In Shakespeare’s Othello almost every character ranging from Brabantio to Emilia is somewhat responsible for the tragedy, emotions are also at play in the tragedy. Essentially the main person or later referred to as a “devil” is Iago, the fiendish manipulator pulling the strings.
Throughout the play Iago jumps at any attempt to sabotage Othello and Desdemona’s relationship and quite literally anyone who gets in his way including his own wife Emilia, whom he later stabs in a final act of cowardice and Michael Cassio who holds the rank of lieutenant, which is essentially what Iago wants. Iago starts derailing Othello at the very beginning of the play by going to Brabanzio and trying to stir him and turn him against Othello, this is shown by his many animal epithets such as “Even now, very now an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.”- Act 1 scene 1 lines 88-89. He continues these charades even in Cyprus and continues until the end.
Emilia played a huge part in the downfall as well. Although her marriage to Iago seems extremely rocky and the amount of disrespect Iago shows towards her, she helps Iago by giving him the handkerchief when it’s dropped by Desdemona in Act 3. The handkerchief was supposedly created by a gypsy and given to Othello’s mother, whom used it to woo his father and upon dying gave it Othello and bid him to give it to his mistress so they would stay together. Upon finding out the role she played in the death of Desdemona, Emilia is absolutely disgusted by Iago and confronts Othello, telling him that she found the handkerchief and gave it to Iago who planted it in Cassio’s quarters. “She gave it Cassio? No, alas, I found it, And did give’t my husband.” Act 4 scene 2 lines 231-232. She is mortally wounded by Iago shortly after.
Roderigo was another character who was manipulated by Iago immensely. Towards the start of the play Roderigo wants to drown himself upon finding out...
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