End That Desdemona
W.H. Auden once said, “There is more than meets the eye,” suggesting that there may be a possibility of a deeper meaning behind a person’s appearance; in how they act and what they do. Lies are known to be common in our society, and many people can mask their true colours with a disguise. In the play Othello, Iago isn’t different than any of those people. Iago uses his indecisive and skillful tactics of manipulation to show different sides of himself and others. He exposes Roderigo’s love for Desdemona, persuading Cassio as to be friends. Iago also attempts to distort Othello’s perception of reality by implying self-doubt. This is how he takes advantage and manipulates everyone by going for their weaknesses. Behind this mask, as a trustworthy and loyal friend, Iago is a multilayered, deceptive and manipulative villain who causes chaos and problems to other characters for revenge.
Firstly, Iago goes for Cassio’s trusting nature by pretending to be his friend while misleading him. Initially, Iago forces Cassio to get drunk to cause chaos. This causes Othello to demote Cassio from a high - ranking position as a lieutenant. Cassio’s reputation is critical to Othello and somewhat exposes Iago’s schemes when he is demoted. Although Iago is behind Cassio’s drunken confrontation, he backstabs Cassio by telling Montano that Cassio is an alcoholic. Iago tells Montano “Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.” (II, iii, 134) Iago intentionally slanders Cassio to make his reputation worse despite being his friend. Even though he did this much, Iago further plots against Cassio by advising him into dreadful intentions that have negative impacts throughout the play. He does this by giving hope to Cassio that he would possibly get his position back by telling him to plead with Othello’s wife. Iago uses this as a sidetrack to bring him down. Iago attacks Cassio’s weak side of trusting nature; Iago appeals to Cassio’s trusting nature, “I protest in the sincerity of love and honest kindness.” (II, iii, 347) But contradictorily follows up with a soliloquy, “Whats he then that says I play the villain.” (II, iii, 356) This is how he deliberately ill-advised Cassio's actions to insinuate that Desdemona pays no respect to Othello and that she is unfaithful to him. Secondly, Roderigo's lack of understanding of money leads Iago to take advantage of him. Iago can convince Roderigo of his fortune. He states that gold and jewels would be given to Desdemona as a proclamation of love. Although the catch is that Iago’s plans to keep it to himself, Iago says; “Thus do I ever make fool my purse.”(I, iii, 426) This shows that Iago takes advantage of Roderigo’s devotion by conning him of his money. In relation, Iago uses Roderigo again by convincing him that he would kill Cassio. Finally, Iago manipulates Othello’s personal securities to bring his downfall. Throughout the play, he is referred to as the moor. This is as his skin colour refers to some unfavourable assumptions. As Othello gradually loses his self-respect, his relationship with Desdemona also progressively diminishes. Iago piece by piece wears down Othello and instead replaces it with jealousy; more like a thunderous cloud over his head. Othello turns against Desdemona stating O damn her, damn her lewd minx - Come, go with me apart I will withdraw - To furnish me with some swift means of death - For the fair devil - Now art thou my lieutenant (III.iii.541-545). Othello then tries to get the reality behind if this is true by inquiring Iago and not his wife. Iago cooks up something more for Othello to have fun with. Iago’s manipulative nature has caused many outbreaks throughout the play.
Iago being a multilayered man that has many roles to play to everybody throughout the play. Firstly, Iago is able to convince Othello because Desdemona had betrayed her father she is also going to betray Othello. This is as he has also been combined with the knowledge that women back in the day were unfaithful and unvirtuous, Iago is able to put a screen on Othello’s feelings towards her and think that she is cheating on him making Desdemona think she is a miserable woman. Just like how Iago tries to believe that Othello is sleeping with his wife, Emilia. Even though he is not entirely sure of this, he still assumes it because he hates Othello so much. That is why he acts superbly lovely and friendly to Othello because he has something up his sleeve. As the play continues, Othello continues to have doubt that is he really capable of keeping her interested in him, as he says “Haply for I am black an have not those soft parts of conversation that chambers have.” (III, iii, 304-306) He tries to show that he is a helpful man by taking Desdemona’s handkerchief off of Emilia claiming that he needs it for something. But no one knows that this would be the final piece required to complete what he is desiring. As we know, in reality, he is nothing but an actor. Secondly, Iago takes advantage of Othello’s self-doubt to cradle him in a multilayered environment. Othello realizes that he is wrong to believe everything Othello had said as it turns out in the end that Desdemona had died because of Iago and before Othello has a chance to kill Iago he says that “I kiss’d ere I kill’d thee” (V, ii, 420). Iago still doesn’t care as he managed what he wanted for a long time. Thirdly, Iago is able to use Roderigo’s open nature once again to his advantage. Iago states that he will help Roderigo get closer to Desdemona with the help Roderigo. Iago was using Roderigo as a bank. He would go to him if he were to be financially unstable to ensure that his plan would come across. Iago says “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (I, iii, 426), showing that he is using Roderigo. Iago has moments where he is unable to control himself in what he says. For example, Iago blurts out to Roderigo that he has a plan to overthrow Othello and play games with his mind, but he says this inexplicitly. Apparently, no one believes him thinking that he may be just joking. Iago being multilayered successfully puts a screen on everything that he accomplishes by throwing someone else under the bus.
Iago is a deceptive man that is easily believable and gets whatever he wants when he wants. Firstly, Iago tries to play the “nice guy.” Iago deceives Othello by stating that he truly loves him, “My lord you know I love you.” (III, iii, 134) Othello believes Iago because he has no reason for Iago to be unfaithful to him as Othello considers him an honest man, “And for I know ‘rt full of love and honesty, And weigh’st before thou giv’st them, breath.” (III, iii, 136-139) Othello has so much admiration for Iago; He has a belief that Iago holds back when it comes to criticizing others. This shows that Othello is way too trusting. Someone who works for Othello wouldn’t have the power to be deceitful to Othello. Secondly, Iago makes Roderigo believe that Desdemona is not fit for Othello. Iago states that Desdemona would eventually get sexually bored with Othello so that someone else would eventually get closer to her. He provides Roderigo with an incentive that supports that fact that they should bring down and then kill Michael. Roderigo is shocked by this outbreak and has limited time and options in what he should do. Iago also puts in his head that Othello and Desdemona are going to Mauritania and that Othello will not be able to win her back. But if and only if, (if) Iago dies than they will stay in Cyprus. Roderigo being a trusting fool believes every single word of what Iago said. Iago on the other hand, hates Roderigo referring him as faithful by his master. He states, “ If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trace, For his quick hunting (II, I, 325-326) Finally, Iago uses Othello’s and Cassio’s aspirations and passions to whatever plan Iago has in mind. As Iago doesn’t have to unveil too much of his plan because his proposed actions seem to be harmless to the characters’ woes, he can maintain an air of apathy while Iago still promotes his evil desires. He states that “I am not what I am”( I, i, 71) giving a hint that in reality, he isn’t this “nice.” Iago’s deceptive plans have worked against Cassio, Roderigo and Othello which lead all those characters to downfall.
To end of, Iago uses his knowledge of everybody and takes advantage of their weaknesses to succeed in his cunning schemes against them. The gullible fool Roderigo, the trusting nature of Cassio and the one and only Othello (called the Moor), all fit perfectly into the trap of Iago’s plans. Unfortunately, Iago manages to get what he wanted to get almost everyone killed except for himself. Iago still lives with the weight of the death of all the innocent people on his shoulders. If you look at it, Iago is much like a spider, twisting and turning his prey deeper into desolation while he continuously spins his web of lies all around the others, to keep his targets right where he wants them.