Roderigo Academic Journal

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It is a common misconception to say that Roderigo is an inferior character in Othell, and that he plays no major role due to his simple superobjective which he does not achieve—which is to be with Desdemona by whatever means necessary. However, Shakespeare’s purpose for Roderigo, which makes him important to the play, is quite different from what Roderigo desires. Roderigo’s superobjective is introduced in the first act as we see Roderigo and Iago confront Brabantio about the whereabouts of Desdemona. In the first act we also see how badly Roderigo longs to be with Desdemona when he says that “I will incontinently drown myself” (I.iii.305). We begin to see the power Iago has over Roderigo and because of this Roderigo begins to appear weak and indecisive. This weakness derives from how desperate Roderigo is to be with Desdemona.

Roderigo’s Achilles' heel is his love and desire to be with Desdemona. Roderigo had asked Brabantio for Desdemona prior to the first act. Even Brabantio regrets not giving Desdemona to Roderigo, “O, would you had had her” (I.i.174). Iago immediately recognizes Roderigo’s fault and begins to take full advantage of him. It is easy to say that Roderigo was the fool of the play because Iago toys with his emotions, but Roderigo was one of the closest characters to Iago.


Thou told’st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.


Despise me if I do not. Three great ones of the city,

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Off-capped to him; and, by the faith of man,

I know my price; I am worth no worse a place (I.i.7-11)

As much as Iago was using Roderigo, Roderigo was using Iago to try and separate Othello from Desdemona. Roderigo’s extreme feelings make him easily manipulated and unable...

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...a lot about Roderigo’s character and what he is willing to do to be with Desdemona.

Roderigo never does achieve his superobjective for he dies by the hands of Iago. For this reason some see Roderigo as being weak, however I think it shows how deceiving Iago is and how dedicated Roderigo was to his superobjective. Roderigo went as far as he could to achieve his superobjective, and just as he said, “It is silliness to live when to live is torment, and then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician” (I.iii.307-310). In the end Roderigo fulfills is promise and dies attempting to achieve his superobjective—separating Desdemona away from Othello so that Roderigo could be with her. However, Roderigo does serve a greater purpose and fulfills the role Shakespeare had assigned him by being the catalyst to the falling action which led to the tragic ending.
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