In Webster’s dictionary deception is defined as “to be false to”. Deception is a specific trait which leads to other acts such as twisting truths and lying just to gain personal benefit. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Envious Iago has many different reasons for the hate and jealousy towards Othello. There are many specific motives which Iago works on contributing to his many reasons of jealousy towards Othello. The theme of deception is evident throughout the whole play particularly through Iago’s actions towards those around him. Iago’s personality consists of these traits such as deception and his conniving actions lead him to deceive others because of his jealousy towards Othello. Iago is seen to be an individual who deceives and manipulates others to achieve what he desires; it is Iago’s jealousy of Othello that causes him to act as he does. . Iago is driven by his unconscious hate for Othello, his occupational angst and the secret love he has for Desdemona. It is Iago’s jealousy of Othello that causes him to do the things he does. For one, Iago is driven by his unconscious hate for Othello. Iago is jealous of Othello because of his unconscious hate for him. The following quote illustrates this. “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (1.1.93-34). As Iago speaks to Brabantio, Iago shows how he has an automatic hate for Othello as he disrespects him and refers to him as a black ram. Iago Is jealous of Othello and shows hate and disrespect towards him just because Iago wishes he could live the life of Othello. Another quote which demonstrates the hatred that Iago has for Othello is, “Despise me” (1.1.8). This short but significant quote describes Iago’s conversation with Roderigo explaining his reasons of hatred towards Othello. Iago’s jealously towards Othello is also caused by the fact that Othello has the life and occupation which Iago wants. In addition, with Othello’s higher rank, he appointed Cassio with the position of lieutenant instead of Iago. If Iago was in Othello’s position, he could be the General and he could make all the major decisions. Iago is angry over not receiving the position which makes his envy for Othello even greater. Iago wishes he could have more power because he feels he has a larger sense of knowledge for the higher ranked jobs. The following passage shows how Iago thinks Cassio should not have received the job of lieutenant. “One Michael Cassio, a Florentine-/ A fellow almost damned in a fair wife-/ That never set a squadron in the field/ Nor the division of a battle knows/ More than a spinster—unless the bookish theoric” (1.1.20-24) The above quote explains how Iago think he deserves the title over Cassio. He feels that Cassio is nowhere as good as Iago and should not be the lieutenant of Othello. Iago explicates that Cassio has not ever fought and is only good with “bookish” jobs and is not fit for the lieutenant position. Iago is jealous of Othello’s occupational position because Iago knows that he would be able to make all the decisions including choosing a better lieutenant. Iago’s hatred for Othello is enhanced due to the fact that Othello has won Desdemona’s heart and made her his wife. Iago’s actions reveal his secret love for Desdemona. This is one of the main reasons Iago is jealous of Othello. Evidence that Iago loves Desdemona is when Iago makes his wife steal Desdemona’s handkerchief. Iago makes it seem part of his whole plan but the main reason involves his secret love for Desdemona which makes him want the handkerchief because he really loves her. When his own wife Emilia asks him what he needs it for he snatches it away. EMILIA: What will you do with’t that you have been/ So earnest to have me flinch it? IAGO: Why, what is that to you
EMILIA: If it not for some purpose of important/ Give’t me again: poor lady, she’ll run mad / When she shall lack it. IAGO: Be not acknown on 't; I have use for it/ Go, leave me” (3.3.355-356). In this quote Iago tells Emilia he has use for the handkerchief but he will not tell her what he needs it for and tells her it is none of her business. The secret love Iago has for Desdemona is showed by him wanting her belongings. The overall theme of deception is well matched with the idea of Iago manipulating people to attain what he wants. Iago has a many reasons for why he is jealous of Othello including how he unconsciously hates Othello. His jealousy towards Othello is also due to the fact that Othello is of higher power and how Iago did not receive the lieutenant position. The love which Othello has for Desdemona is another contributing factor as to why Iago is jealous of Othello. Iago secretly wants Desdemona to be his and not to be with Othello. Iago shows the theme of deception throughout the play. Therefore, through the actions of Iago, deception is proved to be the act of not be truthful for one’s own benefit. The play Othello and the topics shown through the theme of jealousy relate to the rest of the world in many ways. The world has traits of deception and envy almost everywhere. These negative qualities are prevalent all the time in many people within this world. It is a reoccurring act which Iago interprets to get what he wants. It is evident that the attributes portrayed in Othello are present all over the world.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. 1622. New York: Random House, 2009