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Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre} Othello and Iago Othello also maintains a deceptive relationship with his ancient, Iago that shapes his fate as a tragic hero. Iago gradually builds his relationship with Othello by first gaining Othello’s trust, then advising Othello on the handling of the accused lovers, Desdemona and Cassio. Othello fails to recognize Iago as an antagonist which discloses his tragic blindness to insincerity. Iago builds an outwardly trustworthy relationship with Othello only to manipulate him. As Othello trusts and follows Iago’s ill-intended advice, his tragic flaw is more obvious. Shakespeare introduces Iago in the beginning of the play announcing Iago’s deceit in Othello’s life: In following Othello, I follow but myself.

  Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,  But seeming so for my peculiar end.  For when my outward action doth demonstrate  The native act and figure of my heart In complement extern, ’tis not long after  But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve  For daws to peck at. I am not what I am (1.1.63-71). Shakespeare reveals Iago’s true personality in the beginning of the play to fully expose Iago’s villainous intentions of his loyalty and support for Othello to the audience. Iago has the anger towards Othello because he is bitter about Othello giving Cassio the lieutenant position instead of him.

Iago demonstrates his disobedience of Othello through the line, “I follow but myself”. He says he is not for “love and duty”, which contrasts with when Iago promises his love and duty for Othello later in the play. He explains that his loyalty is only for his “peculiar ends” — personal goals — exposing Iago’s defiance. He also ridicules external sincerity and emphasizes that he will never show how he really feels and who he actually is on the outside. This point is supported by the last sentence, “I am not what I am”, which resonates an intense and ominous tone. The last telegraphic sentence also can be a contradiction against God’s statement in Exodus 3:14 (Mowat and Werstine, 10) — “I am what I am”. The statement refutes Iago’s earlier claim of “Heaven in my judge” because he claims to follow God, but he later says the opposite of God’s sayings in the Bible. Iago’s soliloquy in Act 1 overall illustrates his true nature and ideas, which insinuates his duplicitous character in general when interacting with other characters throughout the play.

In a similar case, Iago mentions: “Though I do hate him as I do hell , yet for the necessity of present life, I must show out a flag and sign of love – which is indeed but sign” (Shakespeare 1.1.171-174). This quotation reinforces the theme of insincerity by using the metaphorical use of “flag” to show a sign of his love.

It also employs a simile to compare hating the Moor as much as hell, indicating his enmity for Othello because of his bitterness for the lieutenant position. Shakespeare’s use of dash at the end of the sentence distinguishes Iago’s actions with his thoughts. He also writes “necessity of present life” to uncover his true intentions of being loyal to Othello. Iago’s conversation with Othello proves the insincerity once again: IAGO. My lord, you know I love you. OTHELLO. I think thou dost;  And for I know thou’rt full of love and honesty  And weights’  thy words before thou give’s them breath, Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more.  For such things in a false, disloyal knave  Are tricks of customs; but in a man that’s just,  They’re close dilations working from the heart  That passion cannot rule (Shakespeare 3.

3.134-143).Shakespeare utilizes irony within the conversation between Othello and Iago. Iago’s statement is a dramatic irony. He claims to love the Moor, but the audience already knows that he detests Othello ever since the beginning of the play.

And, Iago’s convincing tone appeals to Othello, which is another dramatic irony created by Shakespeare. Othello comments on Iago when he is alone after a discussion with Iago about Desdemona and Cassio’s love affair:  This fellow’s of exceeding honesty, / And knows all with a learned spirit / Of human dealings” (Shakespeare 3.3.299-300). Othello has a pure and certain tone, indicating his blindness to detect Iago’s true disposition. He characterizes Iago positively, while Iago draws attention to Othello’s skin and religion with racial slurs and castigating diction since the beginning of the play — “an old black ram” (1.1.97) and “the Moor” (1.

1.42) to ostracize him. The varied descriptions of each other manifest that the trust is not mutual in the relationship. Iago is the exact opposite of what Othello claims him to be. Othello “forgets that with all his courage and constancy he cannot resist temptations, or weigh facts, or interpret appearances, or test circumstances aright, or even differentiate between genuine and hypocritical counsels and attentions” (Turnbull, 259).

As mentioned before, Othello is narrow-minded, causing him to be oblivious to truths. Therefore, he cannot decide whether he should trust someone or not.  Because Othello is blind to notice Iago’s nefarious characteristics, Iago is able to control Othello’s life. He positions himself as an advising onto  Othello while inciting Othello’s anger and frustration as well. First, Iago spreads false rumors to hurt Othello and his reputation and to trigger Othello’s anger. He first fabricates the following story about Desdemona and Cassio.

In sleep I heard Cassio say ‘Sweet Desdemona,  Let us be wary, let us hide our loves.’  And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,  Cry ‘O sweet creature!’ then kiss me hard,  As if he plucked up kisses by the roots That grew upon my lips; laid his leg  O’er my thigh, and and and then  ‘Curséd fate that gave thee to the Moor!’ (Shakespeare 3.3.475-482).Iago utilizes vivid sensory imagery, such as “gripe and wring my hand” and “plucked up kisses”, for Othello to imagine the situation, along with body imagery uses and synecdoche, “my hand”, “my lips”, “my thighs”.

Iago also includes the term, “the Moor” to trigger Othello with a racial slur. Despite the non-existence of a love affair, Iago powerfully convinces Othello to believe the rumor and to become aggressive towards Cassio and Desdemona. He guides Othello regarding Desdemona when Othello is frustrated by rumors of Desdemona’s love affair with Cassio: “Wear your eyes thus, not jealous nor secure. / I would not have your free and noble nature, / out of self-bounty, be abused.

Look to ‘t” (Shakespeare 3.3.229-231). Iago speaks with a compassionate tone that persuades Othello that he will help him with the situation. He tells Othello the opposite of what he wants him to do. He subtly ingratiates Othello’s “free and noble nature” to convey his obedience and loyalty towards him. Iago ends with a telegraphic sentence, “Look to ‘t” to arouse Othello’s agitation and suspicion towards Desdemona and Cassio. Although Othello distrusts his wife, he does not doubt Iago even for a second.

He instead tells Iago for evidence. “Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore! / Be sure of it. / Give me the ocular proof” (Shakespeare 3.3.411-415). Shakespeare uses a mix of telegraphic sentences and long sentences to represent Othello’s mixed feelings towards Desdemona, along with demanding tone. Although Othello commands Iago to prove Desdemona’s sins, it seems as if Othello is already convinced by Iago that Desdemona is a “whore”.

Despite his schemes, Iago also assuages Othello to make himself look more trusting and reliable: “I am your own forever” (Shakespeare 3.3.546). The use of “forever” promises unconditional trust and allegiance to Othello – which is another example of dramatic irony that Shakespeare implements to convey Iago’s insincerity. This line also gives Othello emotional support. In these lines, Iago seems to be assuaging Othello’s distress, while trying to frustrate him with more witnesses of Desdemona’s sins: “Nay, be wise. Yet we see nothing done. She may be honest yet.

Tell me but this: Have you sometimes seen a handkerchief spotted with strawberries in your wife’s hands?” (Shakespeare 3.3.491-494). These lines demonstrate Iago’s seeming pacification and actual ignition of anger in Othello. In the first half of the quotation, Iago puts on a compassionate disposition that appeals to Othello that he cares about him, but the audience knows better. On the other hand, Iago also broaches a new topic about Desdemona to eventually engender more evidence, thereby more frustration and rage in Othello. Iago’s concealment of true feelings in opposite reveals Othello’s true flaws of not being able to recognize the insincerity of Iago and the possible words and actions intended to tear him down. “Othello is too blind to see the truths of everyone around him; he only trusts Iago with sharing his rage: “he conceals it from all concerned – except his evil other self, Iago by reason of his pride” (Elliott, xxvii).

Othello targets his rage and frustration toward his wife, Desdemona, who is his emotional support and relies on Iago instead. 

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