April 30, 2014
Fate vs. Freewill- Othello Argumentative Essay
Free will is the ability of humans to make choices unconstrained by certain factors. Even though it is believed that we have freewill, it has been widely debated throughout history not only whether that is true, but even how to define the concept of free will. The story, Tragedy of Othello, written by William Shakespeare is a story about how antagonist—Iago – is deeply jealous of Cassio who was promoted by our protagonist, Othello who is also a high general in power. Iago then plans to backstab Othello and ruin his love with Desdemona. Based on Shakespeare’s focus on the character and his actions that developed the plot, it is shown he believes that freewill directs our lives. He does so by using development of the antagonist and sequencing of events.
Shakespeare starts off with the story with the development of direct characterization of Iago as the antagonist who seeks revenge on Othello. In Act 1, Scene 1, lines 54-56; we have Iago start off speaking and introducing his evil plan to sabotage Othello for not promoting him, yet instead promoting some new kid. Iago states, “These fellows have some soul, and such a one do I profess myself. For, sir, It is as sure as you are Roderigo, Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him, I follow myself; Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty.” From this quote, we see that Shakespeare directly develops Iago as an antagonist character. After reading what Iago has said, we learn exactly that he’s actually doing everything for his own benefits and that he could really care less about others. Iago does not try to curve or seem to attempt to hide anything from the audience, so the sense of selfishness speaks out to the audience and the message is conveyed pretty clearly that he will do anything in his will to be in the position of higher power as well as take over those who are in the way. In Act 1, Scene 3, and line 12; we have Iago complaining and speaking towards the audience again. This time he says, “Cassio’s a proper man: let me see how: To get his place and to plume up to my will. In double-knowing—How, how? Let’s see—after some time, to abuse Othello’s ear, that he is too familiar with his wife. After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear.” Iago shares his plot to destroy Othello with the audience. Since Othello is so gullible, Iago manipulates that fact and will make him believe that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. This is all happening due to a result of Iago’s choice to sabotage Othello and get him back. The direct characterization of Iago as an antagonist is showing how he plans on using one of Othello’s weak point—such as his love shared with Desdemona—to help revenge Othello and ruin him due to the fact that he did not promote him but instead, promoted Cassio. He also gets back at Cassio as well, by incorporating Cassio into his plan to make it seem like Desdemona is cheating on Othello.
Shakespeare then continues to use direct characterization as a development of the antagonist to support his support and belief in freewill. In act 3, scene 3, line33 Iago is thinking of another one of his mini plans to help get back at Othello. He is thinking of using the handkerchief that Othello had gave to Desdemona and place it in the hands of Cassio in order to convince Othello that Desdemona has truly been cheating. “Trifles light as air, Are to the jealous confirmations strong, as proof of holy writ: this may do something.” Shakespeare develops Iago as an antagonist using direct characterization by having him purposely plan out this evil plan of killing Desdemona’s and Othello’s love life and having Iago saying exactly to the audience what he believes shows a direct characterization. Another example that supports the idea that Shakespeare uses direct characterization to help support the idea of freewill is in act1, scene 3, line 12. Here, he is specifically saying what he truly feels towards the Moor (Othello), “I hate the Moor: And it is thought abroad, that twixt my sheets, He has done my office: I know not if’t be true;” With Iago directly saying that he hates the Moor shows a direct characterization that he is the antagonist because with him directly announcing that he hates the Moor, we can just tell from that statement that he is our antagonist. This supports the idea of free will, because this quote also shows that although he hates the more, he is purposely going to play nice to him in order to get back at Othello.
Shakespeare then uses sequencing of events to help support the idea of freewill. In the beginning of story, Shakespeare starts off with Iago planning to purposely tell on Desdemona and Othello and how they have ran off. In act1 scene 1 and line 5 Iago says, “Call up her father, Roose him: make after him, poison his delight, Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,” With Iago purposely putting himself out there as the person whose responsible for telling on Othello and Desdemona’s relationship, and agreeing to Desdemona’s father that he will bring back Desdemona we see that with the book beginning with Iago depicted as being a 2-faced person that this is only the beginning and that his characteristics as an antagonist will strengthen as we progress through the story. Because he was one of Othello’s men, and by him being unloyal and running to tell about their relationship shows that he just wants to sabotage Othello and isn’t being faithful to Othello at all. At the end of the book, where it is the last time Iago speaks in the play, his freewill is yet still emphasized. Othello has captured him as a prisoner after he found out what Iago had did to him and demands that Iago tells him why he did what he did. Iago says, “Demand me nothing: what you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word.” (5.2.11) Iago’s intentions was to completely revenge and ruin Othello’s life and make him feel the pain and disappointment that he has gone through when he was not promoted. By having Othello still not knowing why Iago did what he did, even at the end of the story shows how the freewill of Iago was really meant to just put Othello in great pain.
Even though there were many events that supported the idea that Shakespeare believes in freewill, fate on the other hand can also play a role in directing our lives. In Act5, sceene2, page 15 Iago eventually ended up getting caught in his own plan and did eventually get captured as a prisoner by Othello. We see this through the stage directions, “(enter Lodovico, Montano, Cassio carried in a chair and officers with Iago, prisoner) By having Shakespeare use stage directions to clarify that Iago is now a prisoner, we see that although his freewill has taken the story to many different situations his ending result is still for him to fail in life again which was how he felt like he was when he wasn’t promoted.
In conclusion, Shakespeare starts off the story with Iago introducing his hatred for Othello to show how his freewill will playout later through the story. We see how his revenge and all the situations he’s gone through in order for himself to succeed in his own plan was freewill. How he decided to ruined Desdemona’s and Othello’s love life was freewill. By looking at Shakespeare’s main emphasis on the development of the antagonist, Iago and sequencing of events it is shown how Shakespeare believes that freewill directs our lives. One lesson that can be taken by this story is to not put in too much trust and high expectations for someone, because once they slip up it’ll hurt you 10x more.