top-rated free essay

Manipulation in Othello

By g1nger Aug 31, 2014 1588 Words
Manipulation in Othello
From beginning to end Iago moves the characters of Othello as if they were chessmen. He uses their individual aspirations and passions to motivate them to whatever devious plan he desires. His adroit manipulation of those characters range from convincing Roderigo to serve Cassio another glass of wine, to leading Othello to the conclusion that only by killing Desdemona could he save himself and mankind from her treacherous acts of infidelity. However, in each case Iago doesn’t have to push very hard because his suggested actions either seem harmless resolutions to each characters woe or take advantage of character flaws. In each case, because he does not have to push very hard, he is able to maintain an air of apathy while promoting his ultimate malevolent goals: "I am not what I am"(I, i, 71). In this manner, Iago manipulates Cassio, Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo, and Othello to play their separate pieces in the puzzle that will ultimately mean Desdemona’s death. Iago takes advantage of both Cassio's yearning for his old position of lieutenant as well as Desdemona’s good-hearted nature in order create the image that Desdemona is being unfaithful with him. Cassio loses his lieutenancy do to his drunkenness and brawl with Roderigo and Montano: "I love thee, but nevermore be lieutenant of mine" (II,iii,264-265). Dejected, Iago turns to Iago, a self-proclaimed, "honest man"(II, iii, 285), who happens to be nearby. Iago has succeeded in reducing Cassio to a pitiful state; a state in which he will be highly suggestible due to his desperation. Iago first comforts Cassio asserting that, ?Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving?(II, iii, 287-9), which is ironic since Iago has a reputation as an honest man when he deceives routinely, while Cassio is now considered a wild drunk when in reality he is Othello’s dearest ally. Iago states that, "Our general’s wife is now the general"(II, iii, 333-4), and that with her as his petitioner his relationship with Othello, "shall grow stronger than it was before"(II, iii, 344-5). In this scene, Iago masterfully utilizes Cassio’s low tolerance for alcohol, to rob him of his position. He then plants the idea of using Desdemona as his supplicant, on the newly impressionable Cassio. And therein lies Iago's mastery; he reduces his chessmen to such a state that a mere seemingly well-meaning whisper on his part coaxes them toward his action. Iago’s manipulation of Desdemona occurs through Cassio. He exploits Desdemona’s natural proclivity to help others, toward his dark purpose; he "turn[s] her virtue into pitch"(II, iii, 380). Iago is a satanic figure who endeavours to pervert that which is pure and good. Through his suggestion to Cassio, Iago can now be certain that Cassio will entreat Desdemona to petition for him with Othello. Cassio does implore Desdemona for her aid and predictably she responds that, "Be thou assured, good Cassio, I will do all my abilities in thy behalf."(III, iii, 1-2), and thus Iago’s plan succeeds. Iago will use their interaction to further extend his evil plot. Iago’s suggestions to Othello will cause him to construe Desdemona’s pleas for Cassio, as pleas for her paramour. Each time she suggests, "[Casio’s] present reconciliation take"(III, iii, 51), "she shall undo her credit with [Othello]"(II, iii, 379), further. Thus Iago manipulates Desdemona’s wholesome urge into entreaties that fall as proofs of infidelity on Othello’s ear. Iago also manipulates the undeserving devotion that Emilia shows him. We learn from Emilia at the end of the play that Iago, "begged [her] to steal"(V, ii, 272), the handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona: "that handkerchief? I found by fortune, and did give me husband"(V, ii, 267-9). Iago’s manipulation of his wife is tragic; she clearly sees his "wayward"(III, iii, 336) nature, and yet she remains obedient even though she knows that it is her mistress's, "first remembrance of the Moor"(III, iii, 335). Like Desdemona’s good nature, Iago exploits Emilia’s devotion toward his malicious goals. He then, lose[s] this napkin in Casio’s lodging, where it will serve as the ocular proof that Othello demanded before concluding that Desdemona was unfaithful. Thus, as Iago was able to control Desdemona through her character flaw of good will, he is similarly able to bend Emilia to his purpose by exploiting her spousal devotion. In Rodrigo’s case, Iago manipulates both his obtuseness, as well as his desperate love for Desdemona. By exploiting Rodrigo’s dim-witted nature, Iago is able to attain any monetary resources he wishes. Rodrigo’s mental function is also inhibited by his love for Desdemona, which shames him in its strength: "I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it". Thus, with the promise that Desdemona might be swayed to divorce Othello and marry Roderigo, Iago procures whatever funds he wishes: "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse"(I, iii, 426). Roderigo desperately desires Desdemona and is unable to reason that no amount of money will help the situation. Iago seizes upon Rodrigo’s inability to draw this conclusion, and slowly bleeds Rodrigo’s purse. By simply stating to Roderigo that, "[Desdemona's] eye must be fed"(II, i, 246), and that "Desdemona is directly in love with [Cassio] "(II, i, 240), he convinces his impressionable cretin. Thus Roderigo simply accepts Iago’s unlikely theory, given Desdemona’s exceedingly chaste nature, without a shred of proof. Iago is a puppeteer that knows just how to play on Rodrigo’s weaknesses to produce the desired effect. Iago. Iago’s recognition of Rodrigo’s weakness in his love for Desdemona is clear: "my sick fool Roderigo, whom love hath turn'd almost the wrong side out" (II, iii, 52-54). Iago’s manipulation of Roderigo is indeed perfect; the more he fails in securing Desdemona’s love for Roderigo, the more desperate for it Roderigo becomes. Given that Roderigo threatened to, "incontinently drown [him] self"(I, iii, 347), his desperation for Desdemona’s love at this point in the play has reached a feverish pitch. In this incapacitated mental state Roderigo accepts Iago’s suggestion that he kill Cassio: "I have no great devotion to the deed; and yet he hath given me satisfying reasons"(V, i,) yet in the audience we wonder, what satisfying reasons? Iago has offered only wild conjecture and no proof. Yet, Iago successfully manipulates Roderigo to his purposes, as he and Cassio fight, leaving only Cassio for Iago to deal with. Finally, Iago’s most destructive manipulation of the characters of Othello is his manipulation of Othello himself. Othello’s insecurities about his race are what Iago uses to bend him to his will. In his discourse to the Duke, Othello’s love seems elevated and pure. It is filled with religious words such as "pilgrimage" and "prayer” which demonstrate both the strength and sanctity of their love. Yet, by the end of the play Iago has so poisoned Othello’s soul that he is convinced that, "[Desdemona] must die, else she'll betray more men"(V, ii, 6). How did this radical change occur? It is Iago’s gentle prodding and toying with Othello. First, Iago uses Othello’s blackness to create doubt in his mind: "Whereto we see in all things nature tends". Foh! One may smell in such a will most rank, Foul disproportion, thoughts unnatural"(III, iii, 271-273). Also, Iago takes advantage of Othello’s alienation from Venice to create further doubt mentioning that for the women of Venice, "their best conscience is not to leave undone, but keep unknown". Othello’s insecurities, Iago knows, will bolster his argument. Desdemona’s very choosing of Othello indicates that there is something wrong with her. Knowing these insecurities reside in the Othello’s mind, Iago begins dropping subtle hints such as, "I like not that"(III, iii, 37), that he knows will plaque Othello’s mind. Iago immediately repents saying, "I cannot think it that he would steal away so guilty like"(III, iii, 41-42), yet he is masterfully planted a seed of doubt in Othello’s mind. As this seed takes root in Othello’s mind Iago need only supply, "trifles light as air", which Othello demands from Iago: ?Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore?(III, iii, 411). Iago, then supplies him with the "ocular proof" That he demands, "I know not that: but such a handkerchief,-- I am sure it was your wife's,--did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with"(III, iii, 496-8). And thus, with this sole shred of proof, that Othello does not even see himself, Iago has completely bent Othello to his purpose: "O, blood, blood, blood!"(III, iii, 512). Thus, because Iago is able to exploit Othello’s insecurities about being black in Venice, he is able to easily manipulate him using only hints and thin proofs. In conclusion, Iago harnesses individual character flaws and situations throughout the play, to serve his own demonic purpose. Indeed, Iago is a satanic character whose manipulations often involve perverting that which is good and moral into a pitifully depraved heap. This theme reverberates throughout the play. Only as the setting moves from Venice to Cyprus, order to chaos, is Iago able to blacken each characters soul or appearance. In this manner, Shakespeare warns of the corruptibility of society when it veers from the order of a dominant patriarchy.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • othello

    ...Towards the ends of Othello both Emilia and Desdemona are confirmed as tragic heroines. Throughout the play, Emilia is beaten down by Iago, as a result of the gender inequality of the time and her low status as a woman. In the last scene though, she finally breaks through this and finds her voice and stands up to patriarchal domination, whic...

    Read More
  • Manipulation in Othello

    ...Allyssa Althaus Mrs. Wittman F Period 2/4/13 Deathly Manipulation There is no doubt that Iago is the most manipulative person in this drama, Othello. He even said so himself; "I am not what I am" (1.1.71) Iago only causes chaos and pain throughout the drama, and finds everyone’s weaknesses only to use it against them as seen through Cass...

    Read More
  • Othello: Manipulation

    ...Shakespeare's play, Othello, the Moor of Venice, teaches many lessons for life. Iago is a major character that illustrates the essence of manipulation. He uses the front of "Honest Iago" to gain everyone's trust while actually controlling their fate. Iago's lies create an atmosphere of suspicion and doubt and lead to the demise of all the mai...

    Read More
  • Manipulation in Othello

    ...Othello Essay “To what extent is manipulation central to the play as a whole?” Even though the play is called “Othello” and what Othello does is central to the play, Iago is the character that causes the action within the play written by William Shakespeare. Iago is the character who manipulates others to further the action in this ...

    Read More
  • Honesty, Dishonesty and Manipulation in Othello

    ...often the cause of action undertaken by people. This is certainly true of characters in Shakespearian plays. Characters’ honesty, dishonesty and manipulation in William Shakespeare’s play Othello is central to the plot of the play as a whole; that is, characters’ manipulation is the start of causation in the play. Antagonist Iago is a conf...

    Read More
  • Iago’s Manipulation Exposed in Othello

    ...Iago’s Manipulation Exposed in Othello “I have’t. It is engendered. Hell and night / Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.” (1.3 446-47). As Iago indicates, an evil tyrant may lurk in even the best of people, only looking for self-satisfaction and prosperity at whatever costs, exactly how Iago presents himself th...

    Read More
  • Othello essay

    ...tragedy Othello is about a Moorish general in the service of Venice who is lured into murderous, self-destructive jealousy by a scheming subordinate. Andrew Davies's modern retelling is set in New Scotland Yard and has all the Bard's wit, romance, pity, and terror -- and then some. Davies is the screenwriting sensation behind a fascinating mi...

    Read More
  • Manipulation Leads to Self Destruction in Othello

    ...In Shakespeare's Othello, isolation is shown in all aspects of the play. The majority of the play takes place on the island of Cyprus. Protected by military fortifications as well as by the forces of nature, external forces seem to present little threat to the island. Although the island does seem to protect them from the outside, it also leaves...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.