Othello And Desdemona In Shakespeares play Othello, Iago is the antagonist. That is, he is the villain in the play Othello. He is the person who causes an action to occur which affects the other characters in the play. This action may not necessarily be a good thing. Iago is the catalyst for Othellos change.
He is the reason behind Othellos changing views of his wife Desdemona, which results in the deaths of many of the characters in this tragedy. In order to understand the role Iago plays in destroying Othello, it is important to understand how Iago uses other characters in Othello to set his devious plot into motion. Iago successfully manipulates the characters involved to further his evil plans. He does this in such a way that the majority of the characters perceptions of each other change dramatically. Thus leading to Othellos transformation and Othellos changing views and behaviour towards his beloved wife Desdemona.
Iago firstly uses Roderigo, a Venetian gentleman, in love with Desdemona and then Cassio in the process of annihilating Othello. Cassio is Othellos Lieutenant. Other characters Iago exploit include his own wife Emilia and Desdemona herself. Iago goes to a lot of trouble to conquer Othello. When Iagos interaction with the other characters is understood then it can be perfectly recognised, acknowledged and understood how Iago causes Othellos perceptions of Desdemona to change so drastically and quickly.
Roderigo is the first fall under Iagos spell of manipulation. Roderigo is convinced that Iago is genuine and does everything Iago tells him to. Iago easily convinces Roderigo to tell Desdemonas father, Brabantio, of Desdemonas elopement with a moor. Iago and Roderigo tell Brabantio of Othellos marriage to Desdemona who rushes over to Othello to unsuccessfully reclaim his daughter. “An old black ram Is tupping your white ewe.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 90). Brabantios perceptions of both his daughter and Othello have changed.
Later on Iago uses Desdemonas deceit towards her father as a way of changing Othellos perception of Desdemona. He repeats the words Brabantio used “She has deceived her father and may thee.”(Act 1, Scene 3, Line 289). Through this quote Iago tries to convince Othello that Desdemona has or could commit adultery seeing though she has already deceived her father in marrying Othello. This is one of the very first things that start Othellos downfall. Iago is skilfully feeding Othello with lies in which Othello will eventually believe in. Iago handles Cassio in a more slightly delicate way.
Iagos basic plot is to make Othello believe Desdemona is having an affair with Desdemona. “Cassios a proper man: let me see now; To get his place and to plume up my will In double knavery. How? How? Lets see. After some time, to abuse Othellos ears That he is too familiar with his wife..” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 374-378). This quote explains how Iago pretends to be Cassios best friend, giving him advice when Othello dismisses him from his office. In actual fact, it was Iago who planned this misfortune and uses it for his own benefit. “For whiles this honest fool Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes, And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor, Ill pour pestilence into his ear: That she repeals him for her bodys lust; And by how much she strives to do him good, She shall undo her credit with the Moor. So I will turn her virtue into pitch, And out of her own goodness make the net That shall enmesh them all.” (Act 2, Scene 3, Line 320-329).
In this part of Iagos soliloquy, Iago explains how he has given advice to Cassio to go to Desdemona and ask her to plead his case to Othello so that he will regain his position as Othellos lieutenant as possible. Now as Desdemona speaks about Cassio to Othello, Iago will be continually telling Othello lies of Desdemonas infidelity with Cassio. This is the next step Iago takes to further his plan. He makes it appear as though Cassio and Desdemona are involved together, having an affair. Othello does not believe Iago.
“I do not think but Desdemonas honest. (Act 3, Scene 3, Line 228). He tells Iago that he is not a jealous man. Othello confidently says that Desdemona is faithful to him and he will not doubt her without any proof. Nonetheless, a tiny seed of doubt has been sowed into Othellos head.
Iagos plan is working. Othello is beginning to feel the effects of jealousy and tries to stop the jealous thoughts, which is evident in the following quote. “No, Iago, Ill see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove; And on the proof, there is no more but this: Away at once with love or jealousy!” (Act 3, Scene 3, Line 192-194). Iago will continue to feed many lies of Desdemonas fidelity into Othellos head until it results in Othellos destruction along with many others. As Iago continues to inform Othello of Desdemona and Cassios supposed meetings, Othello begins to believe Iagos stories and his jealous nature is shown.
Iagos next plan of action involves the beloved handkerchief, which was presented to Desdemona as one of Othellos first gifts to her in their days of wooing. This is a key feature in Othellos changing perceptions of Desdemona. “I will in Cassios lodging lose this napkin And let him find it. Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ. This may do something.
The Moor already changes with my poison..” (Act 3, Scene 3, Line 322-326). Here Iago tells of how wife Emilia has picked up the lost handkerchief and given it to Iago who has continually asked her to steal it from Desdemona. With this handkerchief, Iago sets up Cassio. Iago plans to place the handkerchief so that Cassio finds it and then tell Othello Desdemona has given the handkerchief to Cassio as a sign of her affection and love for him. Othello becomes enraged, overcome with grief and jealousy and vows revenge just as Iago had predicted.
Iago has noticed the change in Othello and knows that it would not take much to push him over the edge. “Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her, damn her!” (Act 3, Scene 4, Line 476). This is the reaction Iago wants from Othello. It shows how Othellos perceptions of Desdemona have changed. Through his sly and cunning ways Iago has dominated over Othello, has influenced him in such a dangerous way that now Desdemonas and Cassios lives are in insecure. Othello has changed immensely and his treatment towards Desdemona at this point in the storyline has notably changed.
He tries to trick Desdemona into admitting her crime by asking about the handkerchief. The handkerchief is not produced and so Othello believes in more of what Iago has told him. Othello speaks to Desdemona using words with ambiguous meanings. While he is implying one thing, Desdemona thinks he is talking about something else. “This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart.
Hot, hot, and moist.” (Act 3, Scene 4, Line 34-35). Desdemona does not think much of his words. What is said is what she believes it to mean. Othello however, is referring to her adulterous, lecherous nature. Othello speaks harshly to Desdemona as he questions the whereabouts of the special handkerchief.
This treatment of Desdemona shows Othellos jealous nature, which Emilia points out to Desdemona. Othellos destruction is near, as he becomes more and more jealous with each remark Iago makes. “Lie with her? Lie on her? We say lie on her when they belie her. Lie with her! Zounds, thats fulsome! Handkerchief confessions handkerchief! To confess and be hanged for his labour. First to be hanged and then to confess. I tremble at it. Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing passion without some instruction.
It is words that shakes me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips. Ist possible? Confess? Handkerchief? Oh devil!” (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 35-41). In this little speech made by Othello, it can be clearly seen how Iago has manipulated Othello into believing his words. Iago has implied that Cassio has boast of sleeping with Desdemona, which has upset Othello terribly. Iago gives Othello more proof of Desdemona and Cassios commitment to each other, which enables Othello to become even more infu …