Duplicitous Characters in Othello

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Duplicitous Characters in Othello Many of the characters in Shakespeare's tragedy, "Othello" are duplicitous to the extent that how they are perceived in public is not how they behave in private. This is not always intentional, although with a character such as Iago, it is difficult to encounter the real person as his entire life is an act. Othello is seen as a brave and loyal soldier, but is initially presented as dark and dangerous by Roderigo and Iago. To Brabantio, Othello appears to have black magical powers, but in fact, the private truth is that Othello won Desdemona with stories of "disastrous chances ... moving accidents [and] hair-breadth scapes". Othello is concerned with his reputation and upholds a strict code of honour both privately and publicly. He dismisses Cassio as soon as he discovers his officer's drunken actions. Similarly, as soon as he suspects Desdemona of adultery, Othello watches her like a hawk. Finally, the act of killing his wife is not an act of revenge for Othello, but of justice. He justifies his actions: "She must die, else she'll betray more men". Emilia initially believes that he killed Desdemona for no reason as Desdemona has appeared innocent to her throughout. It is difficult to judge Iago's private morality against his public face. Firstly, his public face varies depending with whom he is speaking. Secondly, analysing Iago's private morality is challenging when he appears to have no morals in the first place. Iago is jealous of many people for various, often unjustifiable, reasons, yet at the same time is known to most as "honest Iago" and is their apparent friend. He appears to be loyal to Othello, helping him to "discover" his wife's infidelity, but concurrently is plotting against Othello. It is again difficult to determine Iago's public face as he is always acting and his "face" depends on his company. He has no qualms about embroiling innocent parties in his plans. Iago can act as Desdemona's friend when Othello leaves her in his charge and then Iago turns around and plants seeds of suspicion in Othello's mind about her fidelity. While Desdemona appears to be all that is good to the audience, it must be remembered that she betrayed her father's trust when she married Othello and she later lied to her husband about the handkerchief which was to become so important. To Othello, Desdemona appears to be "that cunning whore of Venice".
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