Othello: Othello and Iago Appeals Essay

Submitted By Livestrong21
Words: 1176
Pages: 5

Courtney Tolar
Professor Hayes
English 252
3 November 2014

Hell, Demons, and Monsters

Shakespeare has built the character of Iago from an idea already existing in the theatrical culture of his time: the Devil in religious honest plays, which developed into the villain in Elizabethan drama and tragedy. Iago says in the beginning of the play, “I am not what I am” (1.1.65). This quote is also reminiscent of a quotation from the Bible: In Exodus, God gives his laws to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and Moses asks God his name. God replies: "I am who I am" (Exodus, 3:14). If "I am who I am" stands for God, then Iago's self-description, "I am not what I am" is the direct opposite. Iago is the opposite of God, that is, he is the Devil. Iago uses his qualities of the Devil in order to manipulate certain characters: Rodergio’s lack of wisdom, Cassio’s trusting nature, and Othello’s insecurity. Iago does all this not for any good reason, but for love of evil. First, Iago uses Roderigo’s gullible and naive personality to his advantage. Roderigo’s obsession and lust for Desdemona renders him susceptible to Iago’s manipulation. This obsession causes him to unquestionably believe anything Iago says in hopes of getting Desdemona. Initially, Iago tricks Roderigo of his fortune. He convinces him that the gold and jewels will be given to Desdemona as a proclamation of his love but really Iago plans to keep it for himself. Iago states, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (1.3.365). Iago takes advantage of Roderigo’s devotion by conning him of his money. Also, Iago uses Roderigo once more by convincing him to kill Cassio. Roderigo is reluctant at first; he relents once Iago insists that this will win him Desdemona. Roderigo states, “I have no great devotion to the deed/And yet he hath given me satisfying reasons./ ‘Tis but a man gone. Forth, my sword- he dies!” (5.1.8-10). Evidently, gullible Roderigo falls for Iago’s deception and attempts to kill Cassio. Instead, Iago chooses to kill Roderigo and mercilessly says, “I have rubbed this young quat almost to the sense, /And he grows angry./May unfold me to him-there stand I in much peril. /No, he must die. But so I hear him coming.” (5.1.11-23). Iago ruthlessly takes advantage of foolish Roderigo for his own needs and disposes him once his value is used up. Overall, Roderigo is a pawn in Iago’s schemes, controlled and enslaved through his blind lust for Desdemona. Therefore, Iago exploits Roderigo’s obsession with Desdemona by deceiving and manipulating him in order to bring about the downfall of the other characters. Second, Iago capitalizes on Cassio’s trusting nature by pretending to be his friend while secretly misleading him. Iago pressures Cassio into drinking a lot, causing a quarrel. As a result of the fight, Othello demotes Cassio from his high-ranking position as lieutenant. Cassio’s reputation is of utmost importance to him, and having just been demoted exposes him to Iago’s schemes. Despite Iago being behind Cassio’s drunken confrontation, he backstabs him by telling Montano that Cassio has a drinking addiction, “Tis evenmore the prologue to his sleep./ He’ll watch the horologe a double set/If drink rock not his cradle” (2.3.112-114). Iago intentionally slanders Cassio to diminish his reputation despite appearing to be his friend. Iago further plots against Cassio by advising him with spiteful intentions, he gives him hope of getting his position back by telling him to plead to Othello’s wife, Desdemona. Although, this may seem like legitimate advice to Cassio, Iago plans to use this in his plot to him down. Iago appeals to Cassio’s trusting nature, “I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness” (2.3.303) but follows it up in his soliloquy by sarcastically saying; “And what’s he then that says I play the villain,/ When this advice is free I give, and honest,/ Probal to thinking and indeed the course/ To win the Moor again?” (2.3.310-313). Iago deliberately ill-advised