Othello and Iago in William Shakespeare's Play

Othello and Iago in William Shakespeare's Play

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Othello and Iago in William Shakespeare's Play

William Shakespeare was born on 1594, in Stratford upon Avon on 23rd
April. His father was john Shakespeare and his mother was Mary Arden.
His parents lost two children before William was born; they had five
who all died young. In November 1582, he married Anne Hathaway.
William was 18 and Anne was 26. There first born child was Susana. Two
years later they had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet died in 1596
aged 11. Shakespeare died aged 52, on 23rd April 1616. His widow Anne
died in 1623 and was buried beside him.

Shakespeare wrote comedy, history, tragedy and poetry. In 1954, on
average Shakespeare wrote 2 plays a year. His success in London made
him very wealthy. The king then decided to sponsor his theatre company
so they renamed it "The king's men."

Othello is a tragedy about a black man who is betrayed by what he
thought was his friend, his name was Iago. Othello thought he had a
love of his life called Desdemona but Iago deceives him in to thinking
she was having an affair with Othello's ex-lieutenant. Othello then
decides to kill her and then realises that she had done nothing wrong
and then kills himself.

Othello is mainly set in the city-state of Venice. By the end of the
14th century Venice had the largest population of the middle ages. So
by the 1600's Venice was known to be a very important city-state.
Venice was famous as an important Mediterranean trading centre for
goods from the Far East. Silks, spices, jewels and other expensive
item were bought and sold there including slaves. It had the
reputation of being full of fashion and culture. It would have been
exotic location for an Elizabethan audience. Because of Venice's
position for centre of trade it was full od people of many different
nationalities, religions and races.

At the beginning of the play Othello does not appear to be jealous. We
believe that Othello is an intelligent solider. It does not go into

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action without a good reason. He stops a number of fights in his early

"Keep up your bright swords for dew will rust them ……" (Act 1 Scene 2

Here Othello stops Barbantia from attacking him. This proves Othello
doesn't fall straight in to battle. He takes over the conflict.

As a husband, Othello is shown to be a loving and trusting partner to
Desdamona. In his early appearance Othello is shown his love to
Desdamona but he also trust Desdamona.

"I do beseech you, send for the lady to the saggitary ..."

(Act 1, scene 3, 144-115).

Othello is trying to prove that he won Desdamona fairly just by
telling her stories:

"She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished that heaven had made
her such a man. She thanked me." (Act I, scene 3, 161-162).

Othello is represented to be a loyal friend. This factor leads him to
be deceived by Iago. He believed a lot in Iago, and rusted him too
well. Throughout the play Othello shows how much he trusts Iago:

"Honest Iago" (act I, scene 3, 290).

This shows that Iago's plan at first was to build up Othello's trust
for him. This way Iago was able to manipulate Othello s mind without
Othello questioning Iago as much.

At the beginning of the play mostly everybody knows Othello as "the
moor." If Othello was white the Brabantio would not have been as angry
when Othello run away with his daughter. In other words there was a
large amount of racism at the beginning of the play towards Othello
but it then decreases as Othello gains more respect from everyone.
Iago made Othello feel like a foreigner, he told Othello that he
didn't know anything about the Venicians way of life:

"In Venice they do let god see their pranks they dare not show their

(Act III, scene 3, 203-204.)

Shakespeare shows Othello as a bad and a good leader. We know that
Othello has to be a good leader because he's a general and has a lot
of experience. We know that a lot of people rely on Othello's
leadership to defend Venice. We see Othello's good leadership when
Cassio loses his position as lieutenant when Cassio gets drunk and
becomes violent. Although Othello decision was made on the spot he was
willing to investigate Cassio another chance:

Desdemona: "… good love, call him back."

Othello: "not now sweet Desdamon; some other time." (Act III, scene 3,

Shakespeare shows Othello as a good character by making it clear that
he believes in an honest person. Iago takes advantage of this and
makes it look as if he is an honest person:

"…As honest as I am." (Act II, scene I, 192)

We see Othello puts trust in to other people from the beginning. The
first time he does this is to Desdemona. He trusted her to tell
Brabantio the truth about their relationship. Iago made himself look
trusting because when something happens Iago always makes sure Othello
is the first to know. This makes Iago look trusting and innocent. This
was iago's plan, to stay close to Othello make them be good friends.

As the play progresses Othello becomes confused and doesn't know who
to trust, this is because Iago manipulates his mind in to thinking
that he is a foreigner and that he doesn't the Venicians way of life;
therefore Iago is able to make Othello think that Desdemona is
unfaithful. This proves not only that Othello does not know who to
trust but that he has an open imagination; Othello's opinion is easily
changed. Once Iago started to spend time with Othello that was when
othello's imagination was being played. For example; Iago gives little
hints about Desdemona and then backs away making Othello very
suspicious. Iago gives little sneaky hints to Othello which almost
tells Othello what to think such as when Cassio is talking to
Desdemona and then leaves, Iago makes it look like he was running away
from Othello:

"… That he would steal away so guilty like." (Act III, scene III, 38.)

Iago toys with othello's mind by questioning him; this makes builds up
Othello's suspicious. Iago questions Cassio when he accompanied
Othello in courting Desdemona:

"Did Michael Cassio, when you wooed my lady, know of your love?" (Act
III, scene III, 93-94.)

This makes Othello suspicious, and immediately after he replies to
Iago's question he quickly asks "why dost thou ask." Iago backs away
saying it was just out of thought.

Another way Iago does to make Othello jealous is by using repetition,
such as this conversation:

Iago: " Indeed ?

Othello:" Indeed? ay indeed


Iago: Honest my lord

Othello: Honest? Ay honest


Iago: Think my lord

Othello: Think my lord!"

(Act III, scene III, 100-107)

Iago uses repeated phrases to provoke Othello's imagination. Iago also
suggests that he has concern but he cannot share it with Othello for
fear of it being wrong:

"Utter my thoughts! Why, say they are vile and false?" (Act III, scene
III, 167).

This makes Othello look innocent and honest. The Iago speaks of

"O, beware my lord of jealousy" (Act III, scene III, 167).

This makes Othello angry but this is exactly how Iago wants him to
feel. Iago then makes Othello feel uncomfortable when he says that
Desdemona deceived her father:

"To seal her father's eyes up as oak." (Act III, scene III, 212).

Straight after Iago ask for pardon and pretends to regrets having

"I humbly do beseech you of your ….. Pardon too much loving you." (Act
III, Scene III, 270).

Once Iago leaves Othello is left on his own with his thoughts. We can
see that he is fustrated and that Iago has corrupted his mind:

"O, curse of marriage" (Act III, scene III, 270).
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