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Othello Essay, Research Paper

How Iago Succeeds In His Quest To Destroy Othello

Iago succeeds in his quest to destroy Othello by playing mind games with him. He subtly puts a negative spin on all of the information that he feeds to Othello to increase his distrust in Cassio and Desdemona. Iago also uses other people who unwittingly aid his plans to twist the thoughts of Othello. Finally Iago uses the handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona to convince him that Desdemona is cheating on him. Iago combines all of these tricks in a devious brew that totally deceives Othello and succeeds in destroying him.

Iago is livid at the fact Cassio was promoted to the position of Othello s chief lieutenant instead of himself. Another reason that he is furious with Othello is that there are rumors going around that there was something going on between Othello and Emilia, Iago s wife. Between this and the fact that he feels that he should be Othello s right hand man so he vows vengeance on both Othello and Cassio. . He begins his plan by awakening Dedemona s father, Brabantio, and informing him that his only daughter has eloped with Othello. As can be imagined Brabantio is enraged by this and sets out to confront Othello. When he sees Othello he accuses him of using witchcraft to sway Desdemona to his arm. Of course Iago is thrilled by this and stands aside as Othello is brought before the Duke and his council. Othello successfully argues his case and it is decided that he should go to Cyprus to defend the city against a large Turkish fleet that is off the island. When Othello does not get in trouble with the council Iago decides to accompany him to Cyprus in order to further bring down his commander. Iago comes up with a devious plot to get Cassio drunk, which works as Othello wounds a high official in the Cyprus government. This brings down Othello s wrath and Cassio is demoted from his position as chief lieutenant. Iago suggests to Cassio that he ask Desdemona to plead his case to her husband. Desdemona agrees and later passionately plead Cassio s case to Othello. Iago continues to torment Othello by subtly suggesting that there may be a thing going on between Desdemona and Cassio. For all his wicked and deceitful ways, credit must be given to Iago for being so good at the evil things he does.

Iago is very good at deceiving people and bending them to his will. A perfect example of this is Roderigo. Iago uses him for his money and as a fall man. When Iago awoke Desdemona s father, he took Roderigo with him to aid him. It seems whenever there is risk of getting caught doing something wrong Roderigo is there to act as Iago s fall man. Roderigo was Desdemona s former lover so he has an obvious problem with the fact that she is married to a Moor instead of him. Iago uses this as his trump card and plays on Roderigo s emotions like a guitarist plucks the strings. When Cassio gets totally drunk it is Roderigo who precipitates the quarrel in which the Cyprus official is injured. And finally it is Roderigo who is killed by Iago in the attempted murder of Cassio. Iago also uses his wife Emilia who is servant and best friend to Desdemona. He uses the information that she unwittingly provides to further advance his own treacherous plot. In the end Iago ends up also killing his wife for revealing his scheme to Othello. Iago also uses Cassio in his plans to destroy Othello. With Othello secretly listening on Iago engages Cassio in conversation about his mistress, Bianca. Othello believes that Cassio is talking about Desdemona and orders Iago to kill him. But perhaps one of the people most deceived by Iago is Othello himself. He allows himself to be caught up in Iago s treacherous web of lies and deceit and pays the ultimate price in the end.

The handkerchief is a very interesting piece of the play in the terms of how it is used. It is the only physical evidence that is used in the play to show that Desdemona is cheating on Othello. The handkerchief was a very special thing to Othello. His mother gave it to him when she was on her deathbed. It was a magical web that gave its possessor the power to hold her husband s love. When he gave Desdemona the handkerchief he begged her to guard it carefully. One day in Cyprus Desdemona dropped this precious handkerchief. Emilia found it but before she could give it back Iago took it from her. Iago planted the handkerchief in Cassio s room. He then convinces Othello with his sugarcoated tongue that Desdemona had given to her lover, Cassio. He then engages Cassio in a conversation about his mistress with Othello secretly listening on. Othello believes that Cassio is speaking of his Desdemona. But the straw that breaks the camels back is when Cassio s mistress comes and scornfully gives the handkerchief that Iago planted in his room. This pushes Othello over the edge and he orders Iago to kill Cassio. Othello himself goes to kill Desdemona before she can supposedly seduce another man. Iago fails in his mission to kill Cassio and returns to find Desdemona dead at Othello s hand and his wife, Emilia, has told Othello about his deceit. Iago kills Emilia for revealing his treachery and is then wounded by Othello. Othello then falls upon his sword and dies at his wife s side. Cassio is made governor of Cyprus and is given instructions to torture and execute Iago.

Iago ultimately succeeds in his quest to destroy Othello by deceiving him and convincing him that his wife is not being faithful. Yet Iago himself pays the ultimate price, his life. One must wonder if excerpting that kind of mind control was like a drug to Iago. It seemed like he became addicted to the power he wielded with the mere suggestions and questions he put into peoples heads. For all his faults Iago must be given credit for being a supreme master of deception.

Works Cited

Kenedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York: Longman, 2000


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