Iago As Expert Manipulator In Shakespeare's Othello

1080 words - 4 pages

Iago as Expert Manipulator in Othello  

   In Othello, by William Shakespeare, the character of Iago cleverly and skillfully alters the appearance of reality within certain characters minds that are clouded by emotion. While Iago does deceive both Cassio and Roderigo, the most vulnerable character to Iago's treachery appears to be Othello. By being a good director and manipulator of emotions and intentions, Iago carries out his plan to exploit Othello's mental weakness almost flawlessly. Iago's ability to bend and sometimes replace the truth with his own lies drives the overall action of the play.


The characters most vulnerable to Iago's manipulation seem to be the ones that appear the most emotionally confused. Iago finds ways to alter these characters's perception of reality and pushes them to believe in a false reality created by Iago's own twisted mind. The emotions that Iago plays upon are that of love and jealousy, which Iago calls "the green eyed monster which doth mock / The meat it feeds on" (3.3.179-180). Roderigo and Cassio fall to Iago's treachery by one if not both of these emotions. However, Othello turns out to be the most vulnerable character to Iago's wickedness. Iago himself says that "I'll pour this pestilence into his ear," (2.2.309) which supports the fact that Iago means to drive Othello crazy by feeding him lies concerning Cassio and Desdemona. The pestilence turns into the words Iago uses to create the illusion inside Othello's mind that Cassio made love to Desdemona. Iago fulfills this plan in the middle of the next act as he relates an alternate version of the truth to Othello, thus manipulating reality inside Othello's mind. Othello, upon hearing Iago's upsetting words, demands proof of the adultery between Cassio and Desdemona. This demand leads Iago to assume more of a director's role so that he can manipulate the action of the play as well as the minds of the characters.


Iago's ability to direct and stage the action of the play demonstrates his ability to alter the appearance of things. An important example of the way in which Iago manipulates the action arises at the moment that he obtains Othello's handkerchief, which had been given to Desdemona. The handkerchief becomes the one object that leads to the destruction of Othello, Desdemona, and Emilia and eventually the downfall of Iago himself. After unknowingly being deceived by Iago, Othello, in a rage of jealousy and anger, demands proof of Desdemona's unfaithfulness. This proof manifests into the handkerchief which Bianca brings to Cassio while Iago directs Othello to hide in a place that he can witness the action take place. In the movie, Othello hides behind cell bars while Iago confronts Cassio. The scene in which Iago reveals to Othello firsthand of Cassio's evil deed determines that Iago's ability to stage action appears flawless. Iago intentionally attacks Cassio with questions about Bianca while the actual appearance of...

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