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Othello - Evil Iago

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David Bloch

English 10 Honors - Mr. George

3/28/08

Othello Essay

Othello Essay

The famous play, “Othello,” by 16th century British playwright William Shakespeare, demonstrates just how much one character can completely manipulate and influence the actions of the other characters in the story. “Othello” is a prime example of how one devious character with insidious motives can sway the other characters to do things that they normally wouldn’t do, and go to almost any and all means necessary to benefit only himself. Iago is this evil and conniving character that influences nearly every character in the play to go against each other so that he can benefit from their enmity. Iago’s chief instrument of manipulation is the main character, Othello. Iago influences nearly every action Othello takes from almost the outset of the play. Iago uses his mastery over Othello’s actions along with the influence he has over the other characters in the play to control every occurrence in the story. He uses this power to achieve his goals. Iago eventually drives Othello to murder his wife, and directly or indirectly causes several deaths and injuries to other characters by the conclusion of the play. Iago himself is nearly killed by Othello at the denouement of the story when Othello finds out what Iago did. In “Othello,” Iago is the puppet master and Othello is the main puppet. Iago influences every action that Othello takes. Despite Iago’s heavy influences on Othello’s mind, we as readers should still hold Othello responsible for his actions. Iago merely put the ideas in his head, and did not tell him explicitly to do anything. Iago just knew how Othello would react and was counting on him to react in the manner that he did. However unfortunate Othello’s situation was, his actions are still his own responsibility.

None of the events in the play would have happened were it not for Iago’s scheming and manipulation. This is shown clearly through his influence over Othello. Iago’s treachery begins when Othello names Cassio his lieutenant, a position which Iago desired and thought that he deserved. He also thought that Othello slept with his wife. Iago’s jealousy turns into shear hate and leads him to extract revenge against both Othello and Cassio through an underhanded scheme that will ruin both of them and benefit him: “And nothing can or shall content my soul Till I am evened with him, wife for wife. Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor At least into a jealousy so strong That judgment cannot cure” (2.1.298-302). He tells Othello that his wife, Desdemona is sleeping with Cassio. Othello becomes extremely angry and jealous, he is a changed person because of Iago: “What sense had I of her stol’n hours of lust? I saw’t not, thought it not, it harmed not me; I slept the next night well, fed well, was free and merry;” (3.3.335-338). Othello is still not convinced, but is haunted by the notion that his wife might have slept with Cassio, so he asks for proof of the

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