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Othello - Power of Words

By waterbinder Jan 24, 2012 1312 Words
Words of Power

December 12, 2011
The famous saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword" means that with words and brains, it can become a greater weapon than a sword. If such a person was to have this power with words, then one shall lead to great things, if the person wishes to do so. In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, Iago uses his skills with persuasion and words to captivate the minds around him in reaching desired outcomes. Iago definitely demonstrates his powers with his words in the play on many occasions. He firstly captivates Roderigo in doing whatever he chose him to do. The simple minded Roderigo was not the only one, as Cassio is set up into Iago's traps next. Lastly the great Othello is wrapped up by Iago's tongue and is tossed around as Iago's will.

To catch a fish, bait and a hook is required, in the drama Iago plots, Cassio is the bait. Cassio is the man who provokes Othello and unknowingly kills Othello. Iago's intentions were to take Cassio's position in the ranks, because Othello gave the position to Cassio instead of him. Iago does this by exploiting Cassio's biggest flaw, his lack of drinking. Iago uses his fancy speech and talents in song, "King Stephen was a worthy peer...with that he called the tailor lown." (II.iii 89-92) ,to encourage Cassio to drink multiple doses. This causes Cassio to get in a fight which results in Othello removing his position. "Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." (II.iii 262-265) After being de-ranked by Othello, Cassio is haunted by the fact that he lost his reputation, but Iago convinces him reputation is worth nothing. Later on however, he tells Othello that reputation to him is everything. This is just another example of Iago's way of manipulating people's thoughts of him. Post being de-ranked by Othello, Iago convinces Cassio to talk to Desdemona about getting his rank back. Iago tells Cassio, if he can get Desdemona to sweet talk to Othello about you, then you will get your position back for sure. Cassio agrees with Iago having no clue this is just to make Othello jealous. Iago chooses Cassio to be used as bait because Othello already thinks Cassio is more suitable than himself for Desdemona. Cassio fails to recognize any of the jealousy by Othello so he continues to try and get on the good side of Desdemona, which just leads to more jealousy by Othello. Iago trapped Othello and Cassio in a predicament that they cannot escape.

Roderigo, a simple man with a simple mind, a man who lets himself trust others more than his own judgment at times, is completely clouded by Iago's words. From the first pages of the play, Roderigo is seen doing what Iago chooses and obeying willingly. "Were I the Moor I would not be Iago. In following him I follow but myself... For daws to peck at. I am not what I am. " (I.i.57–65) Here Iago clearly states his motives and expresses that he is not who he appears to be. He is letting everyone know the nice, kind Iago is not the true self. Despite all this, Roderigo is still wrapped up in Iago's lies and continues to do as Iago wishes. Roderigo spends all his money on Iago to hope that Iago can work his "magic" and make Desdemona his. Iago is constantly letting Roderigo know that Desdemona will soon be his, he tells Roderigo Desdemona will soon come to her senses and run to him: “It is merely lust of the blood...and go without her.” (Shakespeare, I.iii.377-404). Even when Roderigo was on the verge of killing Iago because the promises are not coming true, he is still convinced by Iago to do one more task. This ultimately leads Roderigo to his death, because Roderigo never stopped to think everything through. When Roderigo fails to accomplish what Iago planned for him, Iago backstabs him and kills him. The dramatist Iago, is willing to do anything to keep things running smoothly for him. Iago uses Roderigo to set off his drama show, and Roderigo is played by Iago wonderfully.

The general of Cyprus, the man who has won countless wars, and the hero of the city, Othello. Despite all these winning characteristics, he still lost to the twisted words of Iago. Othello, an honest black man who falls in love with Desdemona, and she him. At the beginning of the play, Othello had full trust in Desdemona and was happily married to her. As Iago steps in however, that all changes.  

"I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip, abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb. For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too. Make the Moor thank me, love me and reward me. "(II.i. 305-308)

Iago says his plans to gain Othello's trust, just to betray him in the end. Othello treats Iago like a brother, and is constantly calling him "Honest Iago". Iago's plan to destroy Othello is to destroy his love with Desdemona. He does this by making Othello think Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago acts very smoothly, directing the actions of others without them knowing his true intentions. Iago would often be reluctant to speak, seeming innocent. When he does this to Othello, it gets Othello's curiosity to set off. "I prithee, speak to me as to thy thinkings, as thou dost ruminate, and give thy worst of thoughts, the worst of words." (III.iii. 131-133) Othello begs for Iago to speak here, because he cannot bare not knowing what Iago knows. With the speaking abilities of Iago, he is able to lie with such perfection that Othello has no choice but worry about his words, worry if Desdemona is really being unfaithful. Even when Othello would put this idea in the back of his mind, Iago would constantly remind him of it. The cleverness of Iago is demonstrated when he would look like he is helping a person, but the truth is otherwise. "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss."(III.iii. 165-167) Iago seems like he is trying to warn Othello about jealousy, but by saying this he is actually getting Othello more jealous. Othello is unaware the entire time of Iago's plot to get what he wants. As Iago's lies dig deeper into Othello's mind, Othello is forced into an incurable sense of hopelessness about Desdemona, and Othello makes the grave mistake of killing her. Othello's trust in Iago left him listening to no one else, even when he's wife pleaded she is telling the truth. This is the effectiveness of Iago's way with words, and how he uses that to set up his drama, plotting everyone against each other to his benefits.

Language, the human's way of communication, a necessity amongst the population, a tool and occasionally, a weapon. Iago's way of speech gives him the advantage over others. In the book Othello by William Shakespeare, Iago uses his way of words to create situations that will lead to a result that favours himself. He manipulates Othello, Cassio, and Roderigo in ways that destroy each other but benefiting him at the same time. Iago expresses this characteristic throughout the play and he turns what would be a fairy tale ending story, into a drama with a tragic ending.

Work Cited:
Shakespeare, William, and Roma Gill. Othello. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.

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