The Art of Manipulation in Othello by William Shakespeare

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Manipulation is a powerful skill. It causes people to lose trust in friends, doubt themselves, and, in some cases, murder someone they love. In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, Iago, a master of manipulation, causes the protagonist, Othello, to lose trust in his faithful wife, Desdemona, even pushing him to the point of murdering her. Iago successfully convinces Othello to doubt Desdemona and later murder her through his genius use of rhetoric and manipulation. Iago’s use of vivid imagery and story-telling gives Othello the impression that Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago begins his manipulation by getting Othello to visualize the affair. When Othello doubts Iago’s implication of Desdemona’s fickleness, Iago portrays the relationship in a bestial manner by saying, Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, As salt as wolves in pride… As ignorance made drunk (Shakespeare. 3.3.404-406.) Iago uses this vulgar comparison to make Desdemona seem like an insatiable creature. When he says this, Othello immediately thinks of animals and a lack control over physical actions. He associates this with Desdemona, thus causing him to believe Desdemona a whore. When Iago mentions “drunk,” Othello is led into the idea of debauchery. This word gives the impression that Desdemona contains little self-control and makes rash decisions. Iago also uses his rhetoric skills to create an outlandish fable about a dream Cassio had, …Cassio. In sleep I heard him say, “Sweet Desdemona, Let us be wary, let us hide our loves!” And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand, Cry, “O sweet creature!” then kiss me hard, (3. 3.418-422.) While this story would be unbelievable to most, Othello already holds doubts about Desdem... ... middle of paper ... ...t mine? IAGO: Yours, by this hand! and to see how he prizes The foolish woman, your wife! She gave it him, and he Hath given it to his whore. (Shakespeare 4.1.169-172.) Iago says Cassio holds little respect for Desdemona. He paints Cassio to be someone who sleeps with many women. By Iago’s clever plan of using Cassio as a pawn, Othello further believes Iago and doubts Desdemona. Othello then is even more convinced of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. Iago’s use of rhetoric causes Othello to believe Desdemona untrue. Iago is able to do this by finding Othello’s weaknesses and exploiting them. Iago not only give Othello the impression that Desdemona untruthful, but also indicates that Cassio even deceives Othello. Even though Desdemona remains loyal to Othello, Iago’s manipulation proves to be stronger than Othello’s trust. Works Cited Othello, William Shakespeare
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