Honesty in Othello by William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, is the depiction of the spiraling downfall of the Venetian general as he falls victim to the destructive consequences of another man’s envy. The story is ultimately fueled by the vindictive nature of the antagonist, Iago, as he attempts to seek revenge on Othello for promoting another man as his lieutenant. It is suggested that, prior to the story, Iago was an honest and trusted character; however, with feelings of degradation and even humiliation, Iago twists his seemingly “good” characteristics and assets, such as intuition, perception, and cunning, into tools of evil and betrayal. The antagonist acts as a puppet master as he fabricates circumstances and situations, allowing him to merely plant misconstrued ideas into the other characters’ minds. Ultimately, Iago’s jealousy and preoccupation with revenge ignites conflict and drives the characters to their downfall. Prior to the play, Othello had promoted Michael Cassio to the position of his lieutenant, passing over Iago. Besides this action, there is very little to explain Iago’s hatred for Othello or his motives, showing that Iago essentially destroys the other characters for no true purpose. For example, though Iago has clarified that he is angry because Othello chose Cassio for the promotion, he later says, “And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets / He has done my office: I know not if’t be true” (I.iii.1023). In other words, Iago believes that Othello is having an affair with his wife, Emilia, although he cannot be certain. Iago does not seem to have a credible or tangible motive, but rather a few inconsistent excuses he uses to justify his actions to the audience. In fact, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge has described him as a ... ... middle of paper ... ... On Literature. Ed. R. A. Foakes. Volume 2. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1987. Print. Foster, Edward E. “Othello, by William Shakespeare.” Masterplots. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Vol. 8. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem, 1976. 4431-435. Print. Poulson, Chris, Joseph Duncan, and Michelle Massie. “Othello.” Google Books. Ed. Philip C. Kolin. Routledge, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2014. . Psych Central Staff. “Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms.” PsychCentral.com. Ed. John M. Grohol, Psy.D. Psych Central, 5 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2014 . Shakespeare, William. “Othello.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2012. 1002-102. Print.
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