Iago and Othello Essay

Submitted By chelleleexox
Words: 1045
Pages: 5

Michelle Flinton
Professor Lasky
7 May 2014
Iago: The Master of Deception Things are not always the way that they seem. The senses can be deceived and make a person believe something is true that really is not. The eyes can trick a person into seeing something that is not there and the ears can be tricked into hearing a noise that is not there. Even the mind can be deceived into believing something that is not true, especially when a person’s emotions are involved. A person’s emotions can cause them to act irrationally and to believe something that they know is not true. The way that a person feels has more weight on how they behave than logical reasoning does. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, the villain of the story, Iago, masters the act of deception and is able to deceive every character in the play in some way. He is able to be so successful in his deception because of the honesty and trust he established between himself and the other characters, his understanding of the other characters and his ability to manipulate other people to get what he wants. Throughout the play, Iago is often referred to as “honest Iago”. Othello states that “Iago is most honest” (II.iii.6). Iago has created a reputation for himself of being an honest man so the other characters believe what he tells them without questioning him. Othello later proclaims to Iago “I know thou’rt full of love and honesty” (III.iii.131) further showing his trust in what Iago says and his trust in his advisement. The belief that Iago is honest is not completely wrong either. He tells very few lies throughout the play. He mostly just uses the true facts and ideas that he knows to manipulate and influence others. In the beginning of the play, Iago tells Roderigo of Desdemona and Othello’s elopement knowing that Roderigo is in love with Desdemona. He then uses Roderigo’s love for Desdemona as a way of manipulating him to help Iago plot against Othello and Cassio. Iago tells Roderigo “let us be conjunctive in our revenge against [Othello]” (I.iii.369) and promises that if Roderigo does what he tells him and provides him with the money he needed, then Iago will help Roderigo to win Desdemona from Othello. Iago says, “thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (I.iii.384) meaning that by promising Desdemona, Roderigo would give him all the money he needed and would also do anything that Iago asked him to do. Iago gives many of the characters excellent advice that lends to his credibility as an honest, trustworthy person. However, the advice that he gives to one person, often conflicts with what he tells another. He tells Cassio to “confess yourself freely to [Desdemona]” (II.iii.312) so that she could plead his case to Othello. This is excellent advice had Iago not put it into Othello’s mind that Cassio was having an affair with Desdemona. He says to Othello “beware, my lord, of jealous” (III.iii.178) but then goes on to give Othello reason to be jealous and to worry that Desdemona loved Cassio and not Othello. The most effect way that Iago deceives all of these people is by knowing each of their characters and their weaknesses and using it against them. As was already noted, Iago knows that Roderigo would do anything to gain the love of Desdemona and uses him as a pawn against Cassio. Iago also knows that Cassio cannot hold his liquor. Cassio even tells him “I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking” (II.iii.30-31) but Iago insists that he have a drink anyways, all in good fun. This sets Cassio up to make a fool of himself when Roderigo attacks him and they fight. Iago also knows that Cassio is a gentleman and would never want to act ungentlemanly in front of the general, so when Othello arrives and asks about the fight,