“Othello” by William Shakespeare is a classic tragedy in which the flawed eponymous hero Othello is exploited and tricked by his foil Iago who uses lies and manipulation to defeat Othello’s reputation. His foil Iago is set out to destroy Othello by any means, Subterfuge is an integral part of Iago’s character and is also one of the themes of the play and this element of subterfuge contributes highly to my appreciation of the play.
The first act of treachery that Iago takes part in is when he goes to Desdemona’s father and tells him about the relationship between Othello and Desdemona and describes Othello with quite derogatory words:
“Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.”
Iago uses racist imagery to discredit Othello and emphasise the negativity of the relationship between the two, we now learn that he is jealous of Othello and will use any means to destroy him. Iago skilfully plays on sexual stereotype here to reinforce a picture of Othello which angers Brabantio and invokes his sporadic racism and disgust inside him. Iago’s animal imagery has aroused Brabantio’s misunderstanding and only made it worse. Iago is brilliant in this field of work, Iago uses subterfuge at every opportunity possible to destroy Othello.
Later, Iago convinces Othello that Cassio is in love with his wife, Iago is telling lies to Othello and Othello believes every word of this, his credulousness his now his enemy:
“In sleep I heard him say 'Sweet Desdemona,
Let us be wary, let us hide our loves;'
And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,
Cry 'O sweet creature!' and then kiss me hard,
As if he pluck'd up kisses by the roots
That grew upon my lips: then laid his leg
Over my thigh, and sigh'd, and kiss'd; and then
Cried 'Cursed fate that gave thee to the Moor!'”
Iago is manipulating Othello by giving him ideas, telling stories which have caused Othello to start doubting his wife. When Othello asks Iago for proof of Desdemona’s infidelity Iago talks about the naughty dream that Cassio had one night when he was sleeping beside Iago. Iago is framing Cassio to make it seem as if he has been sleeping with Desdemona, Othello gullibly accepts this information as proof of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, and this is where subterfuge plays an integral part of the play as Iago is telling Othello stories which have no proof and could be a complete fallacy. The seeds of doubt have been planted in Othello’s mind and for Iago this is just another step using subterfuge to destroy...