Othello - Deception and Vision Essay

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Deception and Vision in Shakespeare’s Othello

Walter Scott once stated, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave... when first we practice to deceive” (Quotation). Scott’s statement is overwhelmingly evident in William Shakespeare's Othello. Deception is a reoccurring theme in Othello, that touches each character individually and on various levels. The theme that affects Othello directly is vision. Vision is the “ocular proof” that Othello demands from Iago, and how his actions are based on what he hears rather than what he sees and knows to be true. Our first introduction to deception in Othello commences with Iago's self-centered plan for revenge on Othello. With his masterful skill of language Iago is able to lead characters to question not
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Othello is pulled into Iago's falseness, with only Iago's story as proof. Othello demands “ocular proof” from Iago, yet he is constantly convinced by things he does not see. The one piece of evidence that Othello does see and is deceived by is the handkerchief. Iago manipulates the handkerchief so that so that Othello sees the handkerchief as a symbol of Desdemona herself. It is seen as a representation of Desdemona's faith and chastity (schmoop). Whilst Desdemona has the handkerchief in her possession, she is faithful. However, the moment she misplaces it or makes a gift of it, she is seen as unfaithful in Othello's eyes. Under the pressure of Othello demanding to see proof of Desdemona's infidelity, Iago produces a story. Whilst asleep, Cassio spoke to Iago, embraced him, called him Desdemona, and cursed the Moor:
Othello's occupation gone – but he still demands “the ocular proof” (I. 366). Iago promises to lead him to “the door of truth”; Cassio's dream, and the handkerchief, are his two means of clinching his case. To the dream (in which Cassio is said to have embraced Iago, bemoaning “cursing fate, that gave thee to the Moor!”) Othello reacts with untrammeled ferocity: “I'll tear her all to pieces” (I. 438). But it is the gift of the handkerchief