The techniques Iago uses enable the reader to appreciate his full wickedness.
It also gives the audience an insight into the hysterical jealousy of Othello, which rapidly gets out of control – an emotion based entirely upon Iago’s potent influence and manipulation. The famous corruption scene in Othello is Act III Scene III. It reveals most of the techniques Iago uses to encourage Othello’s suspicions. The scene revolves around the skilful manner in which Iago insinuates that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair, ultimately making Othello mad with jealousy.
Iago sees Cassio leaving Desdemona and says, “Ha! I like not that”(l. 34). By saying this Iago is planting a seed of doubt in Othello’s mind, he then nurtures this throughout the rest of the scene. Othello then questions Iago but he pretends it’s nothing.
Othello asks if it was Cassio that was leaving and Iago replies by stating the figure he saw leaving could not have been Cassio as he is a honourable man who wouldn’t stoop to such sneaking, dishonest behaviour. Iago cleverly appears to be reluctant to speak ill against others.This is a technique Iago uses so that in Othello’s eyes he is seen to be of good and honest nature, someone who doesn’t speak about other people behind their backs. Therefore it also makes Othello not suspect Iago of any dishonest behaviour.
By suggesting that an action which might seem innocent may in reality conceal something altogether more suspicious, Iago hints that Cassio has a guilty conscious. This gets Othello thinking, turning over in his mind doubting Cassio’s behaviour. Iago is very evocative, he gives a clue to what he thinks then draws away denying the idea, this feeds Othello’s paranoia.There is more evidence of this behaviour further on in the scene.
Again when Iago is speaking to Othello about Cassio. “…
Though I perchance am vicious in my guess… “(l.
145). Iago again uses the extremely effective device of appearing to be very reluctant to speak ill of others whilst at the same time managing to suggest that he knows much which would distress Othello if he were to tell him. This of course makes Othello very curious so he continues questioning Iago persistently looking for answers.Another method Iago uses is that he is very evasive, where possible he tries to avoid direct questions.
This is apparent from l. 100-l. 110. Othello is asking Iago questions about Cassio and Iago replies by using rhetorical questions such as “Honest, my lord? “(l.
102) and “Think, my lord? “(l. 104). This plants suspicion in Othello’s mind as Iago is hinting that he is unwilling to give his opinion. Making Othello think that what Iago is hiding is perhaps deeply distressing for him so he is only trying to minimise the hurt to his master.
A very important technique that Iago uses is that he makes Othello trust him, if he didn’t then Iago’s scheming and plotting would be a complete waste of time and result in failure. Through their exchange Iago emphasises the extent of his loyalty and love for Othello. Othello completely regards these feelings as being absolutely genuine. “My lord, you know I love you.
“(l. 115) To ensure, Othello won’t suspect Iago of plotting against him Iago is very self-effacing.He puts himself down which is complete irony as he is to blame but Othello doesn’t know he is. .
.. But I am much to blame, / I humbly do beseech you of your pardon..
. “(l. 209/210) Iago accuses himself and pre-empts criticism as to deflect the suspicion away from himself which is and extremely clever device and works successfully as Othello doesn’t suspect a thing. Iago adopts a sympathetic tone towards Othello yet it is false sympathy.
This is an effective technique as Othello believes that Iago is a true genuine friend who is concerned about his master’s welfare. But of course he is not, he is only pretending to make Othello think this.Iago also offers guidance but again it is false as he is pretending. “.
.. I fear it has. / I hope you will consider what is spoke / Comes from my love.
But I do see you’re moved… “(l.
214/215) Here Iago is offering false concern which is all part of his act, he is being very sycophantic. He is using flattery to win favour from Othello to gain influence. It is apparent the power shift that takes place, Othello looks to Iago and believes every word he says and goes as far as saying, “I am bound to thee for ever. “(l.
212).Iago also advises Othello; he says to be aware of jealousy and refers to it as ‘the green-eyed monster’ (l. 164). This cleverly plants the idea of being jealous in his mind.
To fuel Othello’s suspicions further Iago fabricates and tells outright lies. Iago realises that he has awakened Othello’s wrath and that if he cannot support his suggestions of Desdemona’s infidelity he will pay dearly for it. So Iago tells Othello that Cassio has been talking in his sleep about Desdemona: “..
. In sleep I heard him say: ‘Sweet Desdemona, / Let us be wary, let us hide our loves’…
“(l. 416/417)Othello is so desperate that he seems almost keen to pounce upon Iago’s account as true. Again we see Iago planting an idea into Othello’s mind and then trying to deny it. Othello is convinced of Desdemona’s betrayal and Iago argues in support of Cassio that it was only a dream.
But Othello’s passion has now overtaken Iago’s plotting and sweeps the action along. By saying this about Cassio, Iago links it in with another part of his evil plan-the handkerchief. This is one of the most effective devices he uses. Iago takes advantage of a simple mishap as Desdemona dropped her handkerchief.
Iago’s wife Emilia gives him the handkerchief and he says in his soliloquy that he will use it in order to link Cassio and Desdemona together. He says he will plant it in his lodgings to prove of their affair, “I will in Cassio’s lodgings lose this napkin”(l. 318). Iago also reveals the key to his success; it is Othello’s weakness which will bring about his own destruction.
When Iago tells Othello of this he is distraught and enraged by anger and jealousy. The handkerchief completely convinces him that Desdemona has been unfaithful, it acts as solid evidence.Iago is exceptionally calculating in his strategies, nothing is spontaneous everything is meticulously planned. We see how the language of Iago and Othello has been interchanged with their roles.
Iago manipulates not only Othello but most of the other characters in the play so they fit into his plan. In Act II Scene III Iago plants the notion in Cassio’s mind that Desdemona would be his best ambassador to pay his suit with Othello. Desdemona tells Cassio she will do everything she can to persuade Othello to reinstate him before Cassio himself even asks her to help him.Iago exploits the natural actions of his victims to their disadvantage.
In Act III Scene III l. 60-75 she pleads with Othello and Iago skilfully gets Othello to misinterpret Desdemona’s pleading as evidence for her secret love for Cassio. Iago also uses lurid, crude descriptions to enrage Othello further. In Act VI Scene he describes Desdemona and Cassio in bed together and this poison’s Othello’s mind, he then attempts to persuade him that it may only be innocent pleasure.
“… To be naked with her friend in bed / An hour or more, not meaning any harm? “(l.
4/5)Othello finds this suggestion ludicrous and we see how skilfully Iago allows Othello’s imagination to do his dirty work for him. Othello pictures Desdemona with Cassio and it inflames his passions. Also we see how much bolder Iago is, since he has passed the dangerous moment when Othello swayed between trust in his wife’s infidelity and suspicion of her honour. This means he can be even cruder than he normally is to infuriate Othello.
Iago has a masterful use of psychology. He uses Othello’s reactions and inborn insecurities against him. All of the techniques Iago uses are extremely successful and all work in his favour.Act III Scene III is dramatically effective because it starts almost harmlessly and then builds up to a terrifying climax.
It symbolises the war between good and evil that seems to be at the heart of the play. We see how Iago is gradually filling Othello’s mind with foul thoughts, to such a degree that he doesn’t know how to deal with it, until eventually we see his downfall at the end. Even though he is certain about his wife’s infidelity he is still confused. Although Iago’s plan may have succeeded he ultimately didn’t triumph as he failed to destroy Desdemona and Othello’s love for each other.