By Andrew Stedman
Michael Scott, an Irish writer once said, “villains often more the story along while the heros react to the villains, so the villain becomes the engine of the story.” This quote almost perfectly describes Iago, the villain and manipulative character in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello. Throughout the play, Iago tricks and manipulates many characters such as Othello and Roderigo into believing his elaborate plan: to get revenge on Othello and Cassio. Iago’s use of manipulation allows him to exploit the weaknesses of many gullible characters.
Iago is able to manipulate Othello and Roderigo through their weaknesses. Iago first targets Roderigo, who is deeply in love with Desdemona. Since Roderigo is unaware of his surroundings because his love for Desdemona is so strong, Iago “who hast had [Roderigo’s] purse” (I.i.2) takes lots of money. Also, Iago convinces Roderigo to keep funding him and to give him as much money as possible. This exploitation expresses how gullible Roderigo is because of his unawareness; therefore, Iago manipulates him through his weakness, which then results in him gaining money. Similarly to Roderigo, Othello, who is also in love with Desdemona, is manipulated by Iago. Iago easily manipulates and exploits Othello’s very obvious weakness: jealousy. First off, Iago slowly hints that Desdemona has cheated on Othello with Cassio. This causes Othello to be very concerned about the situation on hand and if the rumor is true or not. Although before he jumps to any conclusions, Othello has to “see before he [doubts], prove, / And on the proof there is no more but this: / Away at once with love or jealousy!” (III.iii.195-197). This quote means Othello has to see hard evidence of them cheating, and then he will stop loving Desdemona. By slowly dropping these hints of Desdemona cheating, Iago is able to control and persuade Othello with anything he says and does. At the same time Iago also makes Othello jealous with these hints. It is eventually revealed that Othello found hard evidence, a handkerchief, that was planted by Iago, and thus Othello stopped loving Desdemona. Iago also attacked Othello’s self-esteem to make him even more jealous and sad. He calls Othello derogatory turns like “the Moor” (I.iii.336) to lower his self-esteem. Iago also says that there is a chance that Desdemona had an affair because she denied “many proposèd matches / Of her own clime, complexion, and degree” (III.iii.235-236). This quote shows that Desdemona denied to marry people of her same race and social class. Therefore it reveals that Desdemona possibly could have had an affair because Othello is a different race and in a lower social class. In turn, this would then hurt his self-esteem and make him even more jealous of Cassio, the man who supposedly slept with Desdemona. Through his many acts of manipulation on Othello, Iago further develops the plot because the whole novel is based on what he does. Iago easily took advantage of Othello and Roderigo, and had almost full control of their outcomes.
Over time Iago uses many different tactics of manipulation to control other characters so that he can reach the success of getting revenge on Othello and Cassio. These characters never fully see Iago’s intentions until the end of the play. Although Iago was the villain, it was his actions that further progressed and developed the plot.
By Jae LeDee
Shakespeare added Bianca to the play Othello to show that despite your rank in society you can fall in love with anyone. She is a prostitute that is in love with Cassio while they are in Cyprus. As her feelings for Cassio run rampant; Cassio has the same feelings for her. Even though Bianca is a prostitute she plays a major role in the play.
Bianca in the play Othello is a prostitute who is in love with Cassio. She has deep feeling for Cassio. Her love in the play in multiple instance but a time that really stands out to me. In Act. 3 sc. 4 pg. 165 when Cassio gives her the handkerchief she is heartbroken because she thinks he is cheating. “ This token from a newer friend. To the felt absence now I feel a cause”. The feelings between her and Cassio are consensual, because Cassio is with her the majority of the time throughout the play. When Bianca accuses him of seeing someone behind her back he is hurt and defends himself. “Throw your vile in the devil’s teeth, From whence you have them. You are jealous now that this is from some mistress, some remembrance. No ,(by my faith) Bianca” (act. 3 sc. 4 pg.165). He says “by my faith which means he is faithful to her. This love is also displayed in the book by Cassio’s actions as well. It is stated that Cassio’s wife is very fair, yet he still spends most of his time with Bianca, which has to mean there’s some love between them. For example when Bianca invites Cassio to dinner, but the night before he spent the night with her. In Act. 4 sc. 1 Cassio says,” I must. She’ll rail in the streets else”. This shows that without Cassio Bianca will just walk the street, so Cassio knows that and follows her to keep her safe. For the role Bianca in the play, she is very important. For example the handkerchief scene without her bringing Cassio the handkerchief; Othello would never believed Desdemona was cheating on him. Another thing I saw about Bianca is that she is not a bad person as everyone thinks she is just because she is prostitute. She actually stays true to one man instead of being like the others and sleeping with all the men. If Cassio were not married, Bianca wouldn’t be considered so bad in the Shakespearean society.
Shakespeare added Bianca to the play Othello so he can show the audience how love can catch anyone. Cassio who has a fair wife in a way falls in love for Bianca the prostitute. Shakespeare makes this work the other way around as well. Since Bianca is a prostitute she would have many lovers but in the play she stays true to Cassio.
In Othello ,written by Shakespeare, Brabantio has different thoughts about other characters that change over time. Through Brabantio’s narrow mindedness, he decides to change his judgement on Othello based on preconceived ideas of his own daughter, and based on racial and sexist thoughts that eventually rose to his mind in the play.
Brabantio is Desdemona’s father and initially likes Othello for being great in battle and respects his character. It is until Othello decides he loves his daughter that Brabantio gets upset. Brabantio says, “My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness, Being full of supper and distempering draughts, Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come To start my quiet.” (1.i) Initially Brabantio would invite him into his house and would respect him. Now, seeing that Othello is with his daughter, he has the want to reject him and even thinks that Othello would have had to have poisoned her to do so. Not only does Brabantio show some characteristics of racism, but he also shows some of sexism as he thinks that Desdemona can’t make these decisions on her own. Brabantio even says,” Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion Blush’d at herself; and she, in spite of nature, Of years, of country, credit, every thing, To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on! ( 3.i) This quote truly shows Brabantio’s thoughts towards his daughter and what he thinks she is capable of. He does not think she is capable of knowing who she loves because she is a young “innocent” women. I found this to come off as a little sexist when reading this for the first time.It is also racist due to the fact that he believes Othello is incapable because of the color of his skin! Desdemona is also initially angry at her father for thinking she is incapable. Brabantio is mad at his daughter because he thinks Desdemona is not respecting his superiority after all he has done for her, while Desdemona is mad at him for thinking that she has no say in who she loves. Desdemona even says, “I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband.”(1.iii) This quote shows that desdemona is confident in her love and knows best for herself. Brabantio even states that this is not of her personality in the past. He claims that she was such an innocent girl and maybe Othello forced this upon her. When he later finds out that it is the actual truth he later dies of grief as I explained. How could someone be so upset over their daughter’s happiness? He just seems to be in total shock. Usually, fathers like Brabantio would be out to get men like Othello after finding out about situations such as these, but Othello seems to be more laid back and disappointed in his daughter. How could she have done this to him?
These beginning scenes really embody the strong character virtues that each character holds, and lacks. This is part of the reason the story is so interesting.The play had an interesting conclusion and made me ask, “Why does Brabantio have to be so racist and sexist?” Maybe it had to do with the time period they were living in. Brabantio seems to not try to stop the situation after he finds out that she loves him back which is interesting to me. In conclusion, the play shows the racial and sexist thoughts at the time that many believed to be moral. It even relates to some of the issues going on today. I hope to read more like it!
by Robert Shively
Othello is a very courageous and intelligent man; however, his weakness- gullibility, is one that causes issues among his peers. As a general, Othello is well respected and it his soldiers look up to him. For war, he gives inspiring speeches that want people to fight in the war under Othello’s wing. Though he may be an astonishing war leader, he allows people like Iago to get under his skin and let Othello to make a mistake that hurts his relationships: especially with Desdemona. Othello’s relationship with Desdemona quickly declines when he lets Iago torture him.
In the beginning of the play Desdemona’s father, Brabantio a Venetian Senator, is against her daughter’s relationship with Othello because of his race and age. However, this does not prevent Desdemona from loving Othello. Though the two seemed in loved at first, Iago is the one who wants to change this. His claim
“I hate the moor,
And it is thought abroad, that twixt’ my sheets,
‘Has done my office, I know not if’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kinda
Will do as if for surety.” (Act 1 Scene 3)
is the driving force to prevent Othello’s happiness. With the help of Emilia, Iago places Desdemona’s handkerchief (given to her by Othello) in Cassio’s room. When Othello discovers the handkerchief, he is enraged. This results in a terrible fight between the two. The result of the fight was Othello choking Desdemona to death with a pillow. This was Othello’s breaking point because everyone begins to think he is crazy. Seconds before Desdemona passes away her best friend, Emilia walk into the room where the death occurred. This enrages Emilia, and she shouts at Othello. Emilia and Othello’s relationship, which was already on thin ice, was destroyed by Othello’s act. After Emilia shouts at Othello, she scurries out and runs to the others who are eating. She quickly grabs attention of everyone, and tell them what Othello has done. This enrages everyone at the dinner, and everyone quickly turns against Othello. When Othello hears the news that everyone is annoyed, he quickly becomes infuriated because he feels as if he has done nothing wrong. However, Othello made the mistake of not letting Desdemona explain herself. Othello’s lack of ability to block out the criticism thrown his way is what causes him to get in trouble with the other characters.
Though Othello allows for others to get under his skin and anger him, he is still a good person on the inside. However, Othello lets people like Iago ruin his relationships and life with the other characters because he always falls for their temptations. However, some may argue that he has an anger issue, but deep down it’s his gullibility that gets him into these traps, and the solution is anger and violence.
By Aryan Minooe
Iago begins the play as an innocent man who is working alongside Roderigo. He is helping Roderigo to get Desdemona, because he is paying Iago in jewels. It is not long before Iago betrays his own partner, Roderigo, and goes off starting drama. Iago also acts like he is friends with Othello and Cassio, but then he goes behind their back and starts rumors about each of them.
Iago, a man who has no sympathy whatsoever for any of the other characters, is the foundation for the play, Othello. Iago does savage things to all of the characters and does not even feel guilty about it once the result is bad. These ridiculous actions cause the characters to turn against one another, which keeps the play entertaining. The worst part is he never gets punished for his mischievous actions. Othello says, “Iago is most honest” (II.iii.83). Othello, as well as all of the other characters, think that Iago is a very trustworthy and honest person. However, the truth is he is the exact opposite; he is a cunning liar. Emilia says, “You told a lie, an odious, damned lie! / Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie!” (V.ii.251). We learn a lot about Iago as a character from his actions. Anything that he says, or that is said of him, is not true. The truth about Iago is that he is a mischievous and he does anything he can to cause trouble. Iago also acts innocent and gets away with it because of his honest reputation. Iago says, “Whose noise is this that cries on / murder?” (V.i.227). He said this immediately after he himself stabbed Cassio and then acted like he was clueless. Iago does not care who experiences troubles, as long as there is some sort of conflict occurring. It almost seems like he does it for his own personal pleasure. Overall, Iago is a very unpredictable and deceptive character.
The characters do not realize who Iago really is until the very end of the play; however, we know who he is the entire time. We, as the readers, knew that Iago was the source of everyone’s problems, but the other characters did not even imagine it to be Iago. As stated before, all of the other characters believe that Iago is one of the most honest and trustworthy people around. Before the story ends, Othello as well as everyone else who is alive, realizes that every single problem that they had was due to Iago and his lies. Without Iago, the play, Othello, would not have consisted of as much conflict between the characters, which is what made the play entertaining.
by Kelley Orr
Emilia, a seemingly insignificant character in Othello because of her lack of lines and presence in scenes, plays a character who is crucial to the plot and message of the tragedy. Emilia is important because of her small actions but more importantly because of her sufferings before the story starts and throughout the play have made her wise, and she passes on her wisdom to the audience as well as the characters on stage.
Emilia’s husband Iago is a misogynist jerk, and the readers learn a lot about Emilia as a character from the way he treats her and other women. Emilia enters the stage a few times throughout the story, sometimes to bring other characters on or off, sometimes to help Desdemona, or sometimes to help the audience learn more about Iago. Emilia appears in 2.1, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 4.2, and 4.3. In 2.1, Emilia arrives in Cyprus with Desdemona, Cassio, and Iago, while they all wait for Othello to arrive. While Emilia’s being in this scene is not truly crucial, it gives the audience the sense that Iago and Emilia do not really have a healthy relationship. The way he acts towards her seems verbally abusive, and his behavior towards her says a little about her character, but a lot about his. For example,
“Come on, come on. You are pictures out of door, / bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens, / saints in your injuries, devils being offended, play- / ers in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds (II.i.122-125).”
“You shall not write my praise (II.i.129)”
She lets her husband push her over like this and treat her awfully. Iago insults Emilia as well as all women, calling them all the same and saying women belong in the house. And if she really loves her husband she would try to do anything to get a loving spark back from him, which is exactly what she tries to do later.
Throughout Act 3, Emilia serves a number of purposes. Iago nags her to get Cassio to talk to Desdemona so his evil plan can continue to unravel. Also, one of the most key elements for the tragedy to occur is the loss of Desdemona’s handkerchief. Iago has been asking Emilia to steal it, and when the innocent Desdemona drops it, Emilia picks it up. Possibly thinking this piece of fabric is a solution for her broken marriage, she says, “I am glad I have found this napkin[…] My wayward husband hath a hundred times / Wooed me to steal it (III.iii.334-335).” In some performances of the play, Emilia teases Iago with the handkerchief, the actor could use it to be mean to him. In some instances, the actor could perform it like the handkerchief is not a big deal. And in some instances, the actor playing Iago remains abusive towards her while demanding the handkerchief, sometimes he flirts back, sometimes he gets on top of her *wink wink* like one of the film adaptations.
Desdemona and Emilia have a quiet relationship. What I mean by quiet is that their relationship is very proper and professional as the readers can tell from Emilia being her mistress and nothing more. Desdemona occasionally asks Emilia for advice, and in IV.iii.95-115, Emilia gives Desdemona the best piece of advice she can give to her and also to the men and women of the audience. “Let husbands know / Their wives have sense like them (IV.iii.105-106)” means that men, particularly husbands, even more specifically, those who cheat, need to know their wives are people too. Emilia’s wise words from personal experience gives the audience knowledge on how broken marriages are started.
At first glance, a high school student such as I did not understand a word Emilia was saying, but after some investigating and researching, I have come to this conclusion: Emilia’s words about feminism were as beautiful as they were true. I did not know if feminism was a thing at the time of this play being written, but I never would have guessed that these ideas existed in this time period. I thought feminism was more of a 20th century and on type of idea. Emilia’s ideas that husbands need to know their wives are people too is something that most people would say they already understand, but at this time and today, this is an still issue. Domestic abuse still happens between men and women, and more commonly the harm is brought upon women, the wives or sisters or daughters or grandmothers or mothers of the household. And it makes me feel uncomfortable that domestic abuse is still an issue. Emilia is truly speaking from experience because of actions from Iago like when he snatches the handkercief from her in Act 3 demonstrants Emilia has been verbally, physically, and emotionally abused. Yet, she is a strong woman though because she puts up with it and passes on her wisdom Desdemona and the audience. Iago does not treat her like a human being, he treats her like a “villainous whore” (V.ii.273), and judging from this word choice, he does not see her as a woman, or even his own wife. Iago’s verbal abuse towards Emilia proves her point that broken marriages are started with husbands disrespecting their wives.
Emilia is a strong woman in a weak and abusive relationship who tries to satisfy her husband by bringing him tools for his secret evil plan. She is not afraid when she is threatened by Othello and Iago, and is faithful to her mistress Desdemona except when she does not tell her mistress about the discovery of Desdemona’s handkerchief.
Emilia’s most powerful quality is her good, strong mind. She is obedient, and she tries to heal her broken marriage, and she tries to show the audience how broken marriages are started. Emilia’s speech about feminism portrays her as a woman who as been abused, and she eloquently and effortlessly explains solutions for domestic abuse to Desdemona. In conclusion, Emilia is a woman who suffered an undeserving death, but her wise words will leave a beautiful legacy.
An immense amount of wealth held by an heir, can often attract people with malicious intent. Roderigo, a wealthy young bachelor, in Shakespeare’s Othello, is deceived by himself and by Iago. He believes his riches can win over Desdemona, and his foolishness makes him fall victim to Iago’s cruel plans.
Roderigo is immediately discovered to have a seething hatred for Othello. He hates him because he has courted Desdemona and made her unavailable to him. Also, Roderigo reveals that he is racist, he uses derogatory words to Othello, such as “thick-lips” (I.i.67) and believes it is impossible for a white women to love a black man without the use of magic. Roderigo is completely delusional in believing he still has a chance with Desdemona, because even her father does not want him and says to him, “The worser welcome:/ I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:.” (I.i.96-97). Roderigo is not used to be told no; and his downfall is caused by the inability to accept the love between Othello and Desdemona. He is unable to accept this love because he believes his wealth alone will attract Desdemona. Roderigo uses Iago as his personal henchman to get Desdemona into his arms. Little does Roderigo know, Iago uses him to better himself and Iago tells the audience, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse./ For I mine own gained knowledge should profane/ If I would time expend with such a snipe/ But for my sport and profit.” (I.iii.377-380). Because Roderigo is a rich, young, and foolish bachelor, machiavellian Iago is able to take advantage of the fact Roderigo has never experienced the cruelties of the world like him. That is why he is so gullible and takes Iago’s words as fact. Roderigo is also so desperate for love that he immediately does not realize Iago’s schemes. When he begins to become suspicious to Iago’s plans, Iago once again convinces him that he is not the enemy, but rather Micheal Cassio. When Roderigo realizes Iago’s plans it is too late, Iago has killed him.
Roderigo is a tragic character. He is hopelessly in love with a married woman and falls easily victim to Iago’s smooth talking. The reader can conclude that Roderigo’s foolishness stems from his wealth and his upbringing. He was probably told as a child that he could have anything in the world, and as grown man he had never learned that was not the case. Perhaps others can learn from Roderigo; they can learn to make conscious decisions and remember people are not always as trustworthy as they seem.