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Comparing Othello And Canterbury Tales Essay

1065 words - 4 pages

Comparing Othello and Canterbury Tales

The use of manipulation and misleading for personal gain has
proved to be successful for many people throughout history.
Famous poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, and famous play writer, William
Shakespeare, illustrate characters who possess these manipulating
qualities in their personalities. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pardoner,
from The Canterbury Tales, and William Shakespeare’s Iago, from
Othello, are good examples deceiving characters. These literary
figures manipulating techniques are very effective on the other
characters in Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s works.

Iago’s main motivation for his manipulation is his hatred of
the main character, Othello. Iago's reasons for his hatred of
Othello begin with the fact that in choosing a lieutenant,
Othello passed over Iago in favor of Cassio, but Iago may have
hated Othello even before that. Roderigo opens the play by
exclaiming to Iago, “Tush! never tell me? I take it much unkindly
that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were
thine, shouldst know of this” (1.1.1-3). The "this" is the
elopement of Othello and Desdemona. Roderigo has been giving Iago
money to help him into Desdemona's favor, and he assumes that
Iago knew about the elopement. Iago didn't know, which must have
been embarrassing. He says about Desdemona, “Now I do love her
too; Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure I stand
accountant for as great a sin, but partly led to diet my revenge”
(2.1.291-294). He wants revenge for his own suspicion that
Othello has gone to bed with Emilia. It's eating at him and he
won't be satisfied “Till I am evened with him, wife for wife. Or
failing so, yet that I put the Moor At least into a jealousy so
strong that judgment cannot cure” (2.1.299-302). The phrase
"evened with him, wife for wife," seems to mean that he has some
notion that he might have sex with Desdemona, but it's not the
sex that's important. Othello must feel that same horrible
jealousy that Iago feels.

Iago has a very effective way with words. When Desdemona,
Iago, and Iago's wife, Emilia, arrive in Cyprus, Cassio welcomes
Emilia with a kiss, then says to Iago, “Let it not gall your
patience, good Iago, That I extend my manners. ‘Tis my breeding
That gives me this bold show of courtesy” (2.1.97-99). Cassio is
making a big point of what a charmer he is, but Iago shoots him
down by saying, “Sir, would she give you so much of her lips as
of her tongue she oft bestows on me, you would have enough”
(2.1.100-102). He's saying that if Emilia kissed Cassio as much
as she nags Iago, Cassio would have more than enough kissing.
This apparently casual devaluation of Emilia and her kisses is a
deception; a little later we learn that Iago is intensely jealous
and suspects Cassio of having an affair with Emilia. Also, Iago
convinces Cassio that the best way to get his job back is to
appeal to Desdemona, then sends him off. Alone on stage, Iago

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