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In the play “Othello” Shakespeare shows us the story of two men in particular the villain Iago and the hero Othello. In particular we see the way in which Iago deceives and lies to everybody in an elaborate plan to bring down Othello. To deceive can be broadly defined as to be false, dishonest, to cause someone to believe an untruth, trick or mislead someone. Regardless of the definition Iago at one stage or another endeavours upon these actions throughout the play. The basis behind Iago’s deceit is centred on jealousy of Othello which is triggered when Iago is not promoted to lieutenant instead Cassio is given the job. Combined with the racial hate and his suspicions Othello slept with Emilia Iago uses the weaknesses of many to deceive and fool them into thinking and doing what he wants this is particularly the case with Othello and Rodrigo.
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For someone to constantly lie and deceive as Iago does to even his wife is ether pure evil or has no morals. We see from the very start of the play that whenever Iago speaks it’s deceptive in tone and has bad intentions. Iago is actually known for his honesty commonly being referred to as “honest Iago” however this could not be further from the truth. For the most part the play focuses on Iago and the means in which he tricks Othello into thinking his wife Desdemona is having an affair without any real concrete or ocular proof. Iago is so persuasive and very intellectual which is a deadly combination this is shown throughout the play in particular the scene were Iago and Cassio are talking about Bianca but Othello thinks it’s about Desdemona. Iago is an expert judge of people and their characters and is and is able to seek out their weaknesses for his advantage for Othello it is his love for Desdemona and his trust for Iago. Iago is also aware of the fact that Othello is a moore and uses the savage reputation they have against him providing another way to bring him down.Othello considers Iago a close friend and an advisor in the play which allows Iago to fill Othello with jealousy leading to his downfall. If there is any doubt as to how deceitful and persuasive Iago is to be able to convince Othello that killing his wife is a just cause is astounding
Iago throughout the play makes a fool out of Roderigo. In fact, the Opening scene starts out with Iago having already taking advantage of him. Roderigo is simply in love with Desdemona and will do anything to get her to love him back. Thus Iago comes into it with deceptive skills and using people’s weaknesses to his advantage he ends up using Roderigo in his ultimate plan to bring down Othello. Iago in fact decides that he can make a bit of money as he takes gifts intended for Desdemona for himself which provides some motive to continue to deceive Roderigo, with this it can be said Iago has no conscious. In the later part for the play Iago is faced with the accusation that he has not been honest or at all helped him win over Desdemona. Iago simply states that killing Cassio will aid his cause and Roderigo yet again falls for his lies. This ultimately leads to his death at the hands of “Honest Iago.”
Cassio much like Roderigo blindly trusts Iago, believing that he is trying to help him. Iago begins the demise of Cassio when he uses his persuasion to convince Cassio to drink. This is to get him drunk and use his weakness against him which is his pride and reputation. With Cassio in this drunken state and Roderigo adhering Iago’s orders Cassio is made to look like an irresponsible fool resulting in his termination as lieutenant. Iago doesn’t only destroy his reputation he also uses him in his plan to think Desdemona is having an affair. Iago being the good friend he is tells Cassio to ask Desdemona to help him get his job back saying “she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she is requested”. Iago’s biggest weapon of all would have to be Othello’s handkerchief. This object means so much to Othello and when it ends up in the hands of Othello it proves to be all the ocular proof he needs to conclude Desdemona is cheating. In the end Cassio as do many others fall into the trap of trusting Iago and taking his advice which leads to Cassio being lead into a trap where he is injured.
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It is Iago’s talent for understanding and manipulating the desires of those around him that makes him both a powerful and an evil person. Iago is able to take the handkerchief from Emilia in return for some attention he is able to tell Othello of the handkerchief and know that Othello will not doubt him. Iago is able to persuade Cassio to drink and talk to Desdemona he could convince Roderigo to give him his money and to do his bidding. Pretty much all the characters in the play end up being fooled and or deceived by Iago at one stage or another. His reasons for his horrific acts are not fully explained such as his suspicion of Othello and Cassio sleeping with Emilia, his racial hate for Othello and even the aspect of Iago possibly having homosexual desires for Othello. Whilst we never really know the full reasons for his actions the main reason would be the promotion he did not receive. In today’s terms someone like Iago would be regarded as a psychopath which is probably what he was meaning reasons were not entirely necessary. In conclusion it is his charismatic and cunning persona and his deceitful and persuasive nature which is able to fool people to trust and listen to him.
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