The theme of manipulation and deception is very prevalent in the Shakespearian tragedy Othello. Roderigo is the perfect embodiment of this classic theme. His gullibility and impressionability, as well as his love for Desdemona, make him the archetypal love-fool and thus a perfect target of manipulation by the clever Iago. His other characteristic that contributes to the theme is his boldness, which sometimes borders on rashness. These traits allow him to fulfill his pivotal role in Othello and advance the theme of deception and manipulation.
Roderigo’s most predominant characteristic is his impressionability. He is easily convinced and quickly caves to pressure. In act 1, scene 1, when speaking directly to the audience, Iago remarks “If I would time expend with such a snipe / But for my sport and profit” (Shakespeare 1.1.742); Roderigo is so dumb and impressionable that Iago wouldn’t even associate with him were it not to his direct benefit. Furthermore, even Roderigo knows that he is impressionable. Before attacking Cassio (upon Iago’s suggestion), he remarks “I have no great devotion to the deed / And yet [Iago] hath given me satisfying reasons. / ‘Tis but a man gone” (Shakespeare, 5.1.8-10). He doesn’t even want Cassio dead, and yet he was convinced by Iago that it would get him closer to his ultimate aspiration of being with Desdemona. His seemingly endless impressionability allows Iago to play puppet master to Roderigo throughout the entire play, right up until his untimely death.
Roderigo’s impressionability is only matched by his boldness. Things that the common man would not dream of doing (i.e. attempted murder) are not out of the realm of possibility when it comes to Roderigo. In fact, Roderigo is the only character with the brass to question Iago’s true motives. Iago himself even comments “Why, now I see there's mettle in thee, and even from this instant to build on thee a better opinion than ever before” (Shakespeare 4.2.2976). Although some would argue that this is just another of Iago’s tricks to keep Roderigo on his metaphorical leash, it undeniably took some amount of bravery to question such a powerful man. However his boldness leads inexorably to his downfall; fortune does not always favor the brave.
Roderigo’s impressionability and boldness are very important aspects of his character;...