In Act 3 Scene 3, how does Iago persuade Othello of Desdemona’s supposed infidelity?
Act 3 Scene 3 is, arguably, the most important scene in the entire play, for it is the point of no return. It is as if for the entire beginning of the play you were pushing a huge boulder up a steep mountain, and in this scene you reach the top, and push it down the other side, helpless to stop it. This is how I see the action in Othello. Iago spends the whole time plotting, and conspiring with the audience, and in this scene you can actually pinpoint the line where he finally pushes Othello over the edge. Iago manages this in several ways, through imagery, ‘sewing the seed’ in Othello’s mind, and reverse psychology. However all of these ways boil down to one thing, Iago, throughout the play, plays on Othello’s own insecurities about race, and Desdemona.
Iago’s language throughout the scene is very rich and amazingly descriptive so much so that it actually acts as a projector, projecting vivid, clear pictures into the audience’s, and more importantly, Othello’s mind. This is more evident in the later part of the scene, and there is one particular speech I wish to isolate. Iago’s speech, lines 407 to 423, is where the richest image is created in the scene. He is describing a night through which he lay with Cassio, and witnessed a so-called dream. In this dream, Cassio is meant to have said “Sweet Desdemona / Let us be wary, let us hide our loves.'; He then goes on to describe how Cassio began to kiss Iago, and “laid his leg / Over my thigh.'; This imagery is so strong because it places Iago in Desdemona’s position, and which somehow makes it more real. Also, the tale suggests that Cassio and Desdemona have already slept with each other. However, the main point of this specific use of imagery, is that the image it creates is a homosexual one, which takes the image to a new level, and makes it even more disgusting to Othello.
Another method used by Iago is the suggestion of an event, or feeling, and then the denial. This covers his tracks, but very cleverly he knows that once an idea has been put into Othello’s head, that no matter what Iago says, Othello will pursue that idea. The speech, lines 407 to 423 is an excellent example of this as well as imagery. Firstly he paints the picture of Cassio and Desdemona together, as I have already explained, but then he denies the value and truth of his story by saying, “Nay, this was but his dream.'; He has sewn the idea into Othello’s mind, and Iago knows that although this line was necessary to protect himself, it would have no effect on Othello’s faith in his tale.
Similar to the previous method, Iago uses a little reverse...