Othello: Iago's Manipulative Nature

Topics: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio Pages: 3 (1249 words) Published: December 10, 2010
In life, those who may wound us most deeply are not our open rivals, but rather are those in whom we place our trust. William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello utilizes this concept to great extent in the development of its devious villain, Iago. While Iago clearly feels no allegiance to even one other character in the play, he makes each feel as if he is his or her personal confidant and most trustworthy friend and advisor. Additionally, he continually places himself in a dominant role, as one who knows more or is more capable than his peers, and can therefore execute their affairs for them, or at least advise them most aptly on what best to do. In these ways, Iago is able to manipulate the lives of all those around him with ease. The other characters’ trust of Iago is apparent through both their actions and their words. Othello not only entrusts Iago with his affairs, such as repeatedly relying on him to be a truthful witness (II.iii.180, 220) but openly proclaims this trust, calling him “most honest” (II.iii.7). Ultimately, it is upon Iago’s exaggerated reports that Othello, misunderstanding Iago’s treachery, bases his painfully ironic decision, which he announces to all those in attendance, “I know, Iago/ Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,/ Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee;/ But never more be officer of mine.” (II.iii.251-254) This statement alone not only shows how Iago’s ability to endear himself to others directly allows him to influence their decisions, but it also demonstrates his deviousness in such influences. Rather than directly say to Othello that Cassio ought to be dismissed from his position, Iago defends Cassio in a rather weak way, in order to alienate no one while still ensuring Cassio’s dismissal, an occurrence necessary to his most carefully calculated plot. Despite such wrongs that Iago has, in reality, committed against Cassio, his apparent sincerity and friendliness blinds Cassio to his true nature. For instance,...
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