Roderigo, The Love Fool

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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 charact... ... middle of paper ... ...s nightclub. The point being made here is that the audience needs to sympathize with Roderigo. The more the audience can identify with the character, the more powerful the drama becomes, and David Paymer is the epitomic loveable loser. All things considered, Roderigo not only advances the theme of manipulation, he embodies it. His character flaws make him both loveable and exploitable. He does terrible things and yet, rather than condemning him, we can’t help but pity him. He has the best of intentions but they carry the heaviest of all consequences. It is these qualities that make Roderigo such a memorable character and important contributor to the overall theme of exploitation and betrayal. Poor Roderigo. Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Othello. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009. 1164-1244
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