by Rodrigo Guerra
Revenge and cunning outlines the entirety of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. One of the main personas in the whole scheme that formulates the play is a character named Roderigo. Roderigo, not being aware of it, helps Iago, a character that wants revenge on Othello for promoting Michael Cassio as his lieutenant, and not him. Iago plans to use Roderigo as his pawn in the game of revenge. Roderigo’s views of the other characters in the storyline, as well as their views of him, markedly contribute to the result of the story. Roderigo is the focal point of the story because without him, the entire plot would not be possible.
The play begins with Roderigo and Iago arguing about the progress Roderigo has made in courting Desdemona, Othello’s wife. Roderigo has been paying Iago to help him in his suit for her, but Iago hasn’t really done much for him. Roderigo and his love for Desdemona shape the story’s path and make Othello what it is today. Roderigo creates the story because without him, Iago would never have had help meeting Brabantio and getting to Cyprus, and the entire revenge plan would never had happened. He loves Desdemona so much that he says that he cannot live if she is not with him, as explained by his quote, “I will incontinently drown myself.” (I.iii, 302). Roderigo’s love for Desdemona blurs his judgement and he spends almost all of his money in an attempt to win her love in Cyprus. Iago says, “Go to; farewell. Put money enough in your purse”, and Roderigo responds, “I’ll sell all my land” (I.iii, 375-76). Roderigo thinks that with his wealth, he can buy Desdemona jewelry and other luxuries, and win her over. This is not the case, and his desire for her falls short. It fails because Roderigo believes that he has no greater features other than his riches. His own view of himself weakens him. Roderigo thinks that he can trust Iago, so he follows his “advice”, and in the end, it gets him killed. He also thinks that Desdemona is foolish for being in love with Othello, and not him. How others think about Roderigo also affects the story. Iago thinks that Roderigo is foolish and easily manipulable, so he uses him to fulfill his plans. This is further backed up with his quote, “Which thing to do If this poor trash of Venice, whom I leash For his quick hunting, stand the putting on, I’ll have our Michael Cassio on the hip” (II.i, 293-296). In the final act, Roderigo finds out that he himself is foolish for thinking that he could trust Iago, as Iago stabs him and kills him. “’O murd’rous slave! O villain!’ [He stabs Roderigo], ‘O damned Iago! O inhuman dog!’ [He faints]” (V.i, 61.2-63).
Roderigo’s most important qualities are his passion, as shown with his love for Desdemona, and his naive nature, as shown through his gullibility and innocence in trusting Iago. Just like Desdemona, his innocence cannot last forever. Roderigo’s views of others, their views of him, and his views of himself all led to his demise. His weak and easily-manipulated mind caused his death. If Roderigo had not been killed, he would have just lived a miserable life with no money and regret for trusting Iago. Roderigo reveals that he makes a mistake, but that mistake turned into one of the greatest stories ever written.