Comparing Othello And Canterbury Tales A Case Study In Human Nature The use of manipulation and misleading for personal gain has proved to be successful for many people throughout history. Famous poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, and famous play writer, William Shakespeare, illustrate characters who possess these manipulating qualities in their personalities. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pardoner, from The Canterbury Tales, and William Shakespeare’s Iago, from Othello, are good examples deceiving characters. These literary figures manipulating techniques are very effective on the other characters in Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s works. Iago’s main motivation for his manipulation is his hatred of the main character, Othello. Iago’s reasons for his hatred of Othello begin with the fact that in choosing a lieutenant, Othello passed over Iago in favor of Cassio, but Iago may have hated Othello even before that. Roderigo opens the play by exclaiming to Iago, “Tush! never tell me? I take it much unkindly that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this” (1.1.1-3).
The this is the elopement of Othello and Desdemona. Roderigo has been giving Iago money to help him into Desdemona’s favor, and he assumes that Iago knew about the elopement. Iago didn’t know, which must have been embarrassing. He says about Desdemona, “Now I do love her too; Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure I stand accountant for as great a sin, but partly led to diet my revenge” (2.1.291-294). He wants revenge for his own suspicion that Othello has gone to bed with Emilia.
It’s eating at him and he won’t be satisfied “Till I am evened with him, wife for wife. Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor At least into a jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure” (2.1.299-302). The phrase evened with him, wife for wife, seems to mean that he has some notion that he might have sex with Desdemona, but it’s not the sex that’s important. Othello must feel that same horrible jealousy that Iago feels. Iago has a very effective way with words. When Desdemona, Iago, and Iago’s wife, Emilia, arrive in Cyprus, Cassio welcomes Emilia with a kiss, then says to Iago, “Let it not gall your patience, good Iago, That I extend my manners.
‘Tis my breeding That gives me this bold show of courtesy” (2.1.97-99). Cassio is making a big point of what a charmer he is, but Iago shoots him down by saying, “Sir, would she give you so much of her lips as of her tongue she oft bestows on me, you would have enough” (2.1.100-102). He’s saying that if Emilia kissed Cassio as much as she nags Iago, Cassio would have more than enough kissing. This apparently casual devaluation of Emilia and her kisses is a deception; a little later we learn that Iago is intensely jealous and suspects Cassio of having an affair with Emilia. Also, Iago convinces Cassio that the best way to get his job back is to appeal to Desdemona, then sends him off.
Alone on stage, Iago asks us why we think he’s a villain, since his advice to Cassio is free and honest, and after all he is called “honest Iago.” Answering his own question, he comments, “When devils will the blackest sins put on, They do suggest at first with heavenly shows, as I do now.” (2.3.351-353). Iago knows that he is a devilish hypocrite, but he seems to be getting a kick out of it. Much like Shakespeare’s, Iago, Geoffrey Chaucer created a devious and deceptive character by the name of the Pardoner. The Pardoner is strictly “In it for the money.” He sells phony relics to gullible villagers. He convinces these people that these “relics” are of important religious value.
Like he says, “Then I bring out my long glass jars, crammed full of rags and bones; these are relics–as they all suppose.” (p.339-341, lines 20-21). He tells his stories of how he has deceived people into buying his relics. He tells the story of a metal shoulder bone from a holy Jew’s sheep and how if it is washed in any well, the livestock would be cured from eating a worm or getting stung by one if it drank from the well. The Pardoner is not at all ashamed of what he does to innocent people. He says, “I don’t want to imitate any of the apostles; I want to have money, wool, cheese, and wheat, even if it is given by the poorest page, or the poorest widow in a village, although her children die of starvation. No! I will drink liquor of the vine and have a jolly wench in every town.” (p.345, lines 119-126).
The Pardoner’s tale is a very good example of his greed and selfishness. In the Pardoner’s tale, three friends begin a journey in order to murder Death. On their journey, though, an old man leads them to a great deal of treasure. At this point, all three of the friends in the tale display a greed similar to the Pardoner’s. The three friends decide that someone should bring bread and wine for a celebration. As the youngest of the friends leaves to go buy wine, the other two greedily plot to kill him so they can split the treasure only two ways. Even the youngest decides to put it in his mind to buy poison with which he might kill his two companions.
The greed, which is evident in the character of the Pardoner, is also clearly seen in the tale. Another trait that is displayed by the Pardoner and a character in his tale is hypocrisy. Although the Pardoner is extremely greedy, he continues to try and teach that Avarice is the root of all evil. The characters in his tale display great hypocrisy as well. As the tale begins, the friends all act very trustworthy and faithful towards all of their friends.
They make a decision to risk their lives while trying to slay their friend’s murderer. As they talk about their challenge, they pledge to live and die each of them for the other, as if he were his own blood brother. At the end of the tale, the brothers begin to reveal their true nature. They all turn on each other in an attempt to steal the treasure for themselves. All of the loyalty, which they had pledged, was simply a lie and no faithfulness remained.
While the two older brothers plotted to kill the younger brother, the younger brother plotted to kill them both and never to repent(p.363, line 522). Thus, these so-called faithful brothers display their true ruthlessness and reveal their hypocrisy in relation to the Pardoner’s character. It is easy to see the similarities between the pardoner and Iago. They both deceive people into thinking things that will benefit their own personal gain. Their misleading inquiries are important to the plots of the stories; it keeps it interesting and suspenseful and it is obviously very successful. English Essays.