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Honest Betrayal In Othello Essay

1045 words - 4 pages

Honest Betrayal in Othello


Iago's honest betrayal has left Othello pondering over Desdemona's faithfulness. Believing the words of his most honest ancient, Othello gullibly succumbs to his insinuations of his wife, Desdemona, as being unfaithful. Through Othello's soliloquy, he is not the self-confident General formerly portrayed as. Instead, his indecision over his wife's infidelity has caused him to explore his flaws as a human being, showing signs of appearance versus reality.



Othello Citation:

This fellow's of exceeding honesty,

And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,

Of human dealings. If I do prove her haggard,

Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings,

I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind

To prey at fortune. Haply for I am black

And have not those soft parts of conversation

That chamberers have; or for I am declined

Into the vale of years-yet that's not much-

She's gone: I am abused, and my relief

Must be to loathe her. O curse of marriage,

That we can call these delicate creatures ours

And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad

And live upon the vapour of a dungeon

Than keep a corner in the thing I love

For others' uses. Yet 'tis the plague of great ones;

Prerogatived are they less than the base.

'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death:

Even this forked plague is fated to us

When we do quicken. Desdemona comes!

If she be false, O then heaven mocks itself!

I'll not believe't. (III.ii.255-276)


The conniving Iago has unquestionably caused Othello to be suspicious of Desdemona's fidelity. Othello, like every one of the other characters, is duped by this 'honest' ancient whom he knows and trusts. Ironically, Iago is of such wicked nature:


This fellow's of exceeding honesty,

And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,

Of human dealings. (III.ii.255-257)


Othello is left alone to wrestle with himself, torn between his great love for Desdemona and the doubts, inculcated by Iago, of her faithfulness. His mind is fed with false images of Desdemona being haggard with Cassio.


Recollecting what Iago has said about Desdemona deceiving Brabantio, and her pretence of fear for Othello, he questions his life upon her faith. Feeling threatened and insecure, he then examines his own love for Desdemona:


If I do prove her haggard,

Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings,

I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind

To prey at fortune. (III.ii.257-260)


Metaphorically comparing his wife as a beautifully untamed hawk, Othello states he would relinquish his love for her as he knows that having an adulterous wife would make him less honourable in the public's eye. He would set her free without hesitation.


Othello is 'not easily provoked' into jealousy, but when Iago starts his subtle...

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