Essays: Othello and Iago

Submitted By saxonowsley
Words: 1402
Pages: 6

In William Shakespeare's Othello, illusion too often disguises reality. The themes of the play are riddled with illusions, for example, love and relationships, peoples personalities, schemes, friendship, and happiness. All these aspects of the play are full of illusion, perhaps having only one "real" part to it, and that is the character of Emilia.

Love and relationships are the greatest illusion in Othello. The greatest of these being the relationship between Othello and Desdemona. Throughout the entire play, Othello is declaring "I love the gentle Desdemona," but it seems this love is nothing but an illusion to hide the reality of their situation. After always declaring his love for Desdemona, Othello's tune abruptly changes, when he begins to hate her, and even plots to kill her. Othello states, "I will chop her into messes." It almost starts to seem as if Othello and Desdemona's "love" is based purely on lust, as even when Othello hates Desdemona he still finds himself attracted to her. His jealousy is sexual jealousy, not because he thinks Desdemona has fallen out of love with him. Desdemona however lover the Moor to the end, even blaming herself for her own death, rather than letting Othello be blamed. In this way her death was in vain, because all through the play she fights to keep a love alive that was nothing but an illusion. Iago and Emilia's relationship however is more "real" than that of Othello and Desdemona. They have not love, but only lust, however they do not pretend, or try to create an illusion that there is anything there that isn't. Emilia and Iago are constantly fighting, and it is very clear to the audience how they feel about each other. With Othello and Desdemona however it is not so straight forward. Othello creates for Desdemona an illusionary state of comfort. Desdemona is forced to live with the illusion that Othello still loves her. Not so with Emilia and Iago. Emilia is very well aware that Iago does not love her, and so she lives in a harsh reality. Bianca and Cassio's relationship is also illusionary. Bianca believes that Cassio will marry her, and Cassio lets her live this illusion. When he and Iago are talking about her, Iago says, "She gives it out that you shall marry her / Do you intend it?" To this Cassio does nothing but laugh, and then follows it up with laughing denials. Bianca is living in a illusionary hope that Cassio loves her, just as Desdemona lives in an illusionary hope that Othello still loves her. Emilia and Iago's relationship is the only "real" relationship in the play. In this way illusion often disguises reality.

Personalities in Othello are also often illusionary. Iago is perhaps the most perfect example of this. HE is absolutely two faced, and never says what he actually thinks. Roderigo sums up Iago's entire personality to perfection. "Faith I have heard too much; for you words and performances are no kin together." We, the audience are able to see through the illusion that Iago has built up for himself, but we are able to see what goes on in his mind. HE is seen by most characters as an "honest" man, and is too aften described as "honest Iago." Even Cassio says "I never knew a Florentine. more kind and honest." However, the audience knows that Iago is anything but hinest, but the characters are not able to see past this illusion. Iago himself says "Men should be what they seem" and later says "I and not what I am." Sometimes it seems almost like Iago can not see through his own illusion. He even, appropriately swears "By Janus" the two faced Roman God. Othello's personality is also full of illusions. He shows a strength to the other characters that he does not in fact possess. What strong man would so "easily be lead by those" as Iago so eloquently puts it. Even Desdemona has little illusions in her personality. Not in her loyalty to Othello, that is real enough, but in her loyalty to her father. Lodovico