When we first meet Othello in Venice as he calmly responds to the passionate accusations of Brabantio he is, indeed, dignified and virtuous. Once Iago begins so to weave his sinister web, however, the worthy “general” changes quickly with the poison, and he does seem ill equipped to deal with the evil plan. Yet it is doubtful that it is Othello goodness which explains his destruction. To understand what happens to him, rather, we need to consider his ‘nine years’ on the ‘tentered field’ and his lack of experience with women – and men – beyond that. His experience is compounded by the insecurity he feels as a Moor in a racist society of Venice, and when confronted with the cunning and unmitigated evil of Iago, he is easily conquered.
The calm dignity of Othello on his first appearance contrasts with what Iago and Brabantio have said about him in Act 1, Scene 1 (Roderigo and Iago telling Brabantio of Desdemona and Othello getting married). Othello is faced with an exceptionally rude, infuriated Brabantio. Othello’s response, “keep your bright swords for the dew will rust them”, exhibits his calm authority, rather than his supposes tendency to self – dramatization. Othello is a valuable and reliable soldier in the Venetian army. When Cyprus is threatened by the Turks, Othello is ordered to go to the battle. This shows that he is deeply trusted by the Venetians and he proves him self time and time again to be a priceless soldier.
As we watch Othello rapidly sink into Iago’s trap, he becomes an irate, insecure, callous and irrational man. He no longer speaks and behaves sagaciously. He is now brutal, vindictive, and violent. He never really sees his own role in the tragedy, he sees him self as an honourable soldier. Iago succeeds in making Othello believe his loyal wife is having an affair with his lieutenant, Cassio, a belief that leads Othello to killing his Desdemona and later himself when he realises that he was wrongly and merely tricked by Iago. Although Othello does stab Iago, Iago lives.
Iago uses him cunningness to destroy Othello. At the beginning of Act 3, Scene 3, Othello is perfectly happy with his marriage, and at the end of the play, he is planing to murder Desdemona and Cassio.
To some extent it is Othello’s own nature and background, however which is respected for the ease with which Iago ruined him.