Othello is about a man named Iago who seeks revenge of Othello, a noble and heroic General who denied him Lieutenant. Bout on revenge Iago uses the elopement of Othello and and Desdemona to put his plans to action. Exploiting the characters through their weaknesses whether it be Desdemona’s innocence or Othello’s age and race Iago goes to great lengths to exploit the characters in order to achieve his goal of revenge. A revenge in which Othello would suffer physically and mentally.
How Iago goes about Exploiting these characters is conveyed through the various Shakespearean techniques of a Soliloquy, stage directions (aside) and language of persuasion in order to convey how Iago initially achieved his goal of revenge. Like any character, there has to be a motive to their actions, some incident or feeling to trigger their hatred in order to take revenge. For Iago it was his hatred for the Moore and his outrage at being denied Lieutenant. An opportunity arises for Iago to have his chance for revenge when he discovers the elopement of Othello and Desdemona.
Using Roderigo (the secret admirer of Desdemona) as his puppet Iago awakens Brabantio the father and hides from view. “You’ll have your daughter covered by a Barbary horse… your daughter and the moor are now making the beast with two backs. ” The effect of the sexual innuendo’s not only cause anger and strife in the protective father, to encourage Brabantio to take action against Othello but it also reveals a cunning and manipulative side to Iago. He proves that he can exploit others, in this case the protective father in Brabantio and the infatuation of Desdemona in Roderigo to take his revenge.
Iago is clever, deceptive, patient, scheming and determined. These elements are conveyed through his character in the first act. This enables Iago to possess the necessary skills to exploit/use others without revealing his plan. In exploiting them he is able to easily go about his revenge of Othello. “I am not what I am,” is an example of appearance v. s reality the greatest tool Iago is equipped with to put his future plans to action. He is able to use his manipulation skills to undermine, lie, and plant poisonous seeds in the minds of the other characters in order for a conspiracy to begin to weave its web.
Thus Iago is able to catch each character off guard and succeed in his goal of revenge. To be successful in his plan Iago looks for the other characters’ key weaknesses. Othello is the main example. At the beginning Othello, a moor and military man is a very noble and eloquent speaker. He is tactful, wise polite courteous and proud. In the council chambers scene he is commented on by Brabantio “ thou hast enchanted her,” by an officer “most worthy signor,” by Desdemona “ and to his honours and valiant parts,” by the Duke “your son-in-law is far more fair than black,” and by Iago “I hate the moor. The effect of this is conveying Othello as a horrid yet kind man. But his speech conveys his gallant and noble nature “Most potent… reverend signore’s… rude am I in my speech… I won his daughter. ” Honest and overwhelming, Othello is the hero. But when Iago uses Othello’s insecurity of age, race and relation in venetian society to cause jealousy to poison his mind, Othello’s heroic and noble nature becomes dark and a reflection of Iago’s hatred. Iago is then able to use this jealousy to humiliate Othello’s status, and lose those close to him. Thus succeeding in Iago’s plan to see Othello suffer.
Iago uses the the trust bond of friendship between him and Othello to plant his seeds of jealousy. Their friendship goes back to the days of war and this is conveyed when stated “My ancient: a man of honesty and trust. To his conveyance I assign my wife. ” The effect of this statement by Othello allows the audience to know that there’s a strong trust Othello has for Iago and is further conveyed when Othello assigns his wife to Iago’s care. Iago takes this trust and shapes it to his advantage to convince Othello Desdemona is betraying his trust. Thus allowing the poison to begin.
Iago lies and creates a mask of appearance v. s reality and this is reinforced at the beginning when he sides with Othello against Brabancio’s men. A hidden meaning too is conveyed here when Iago selects Roderigo in this scene as he knows he won’t get hurt. “You Roderigo?… I am for you. ” The effect of this is that the audience see the intent of Iago-to protect his own skin and how easily he deceives all. This indicates how he is exploiting the characters. Iago lets the characters know what he wants to hear by hiding behind a mask thus influencing the actions of others.
This conveys how much closer he is to seeking revenge by indicating whose side he supports. Iago hints to the audience in his soliloquy at the end of act one how he is going to approach exploiting others. “Do I ever make my fool my purse… the moor is of free and open nature… and will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are. ” Using animal imagery as the technique Iago has identified another of Othello’s weaknesses, his open and free nature, the ease at which he can be decieved. The effect of this newly discovered weakness is that it easily benefits Iago’s plans.
With the extra comment of Roderigo ‘a fool’ it conveys the exceptional manipulative skills Iago uses to lie and draw the characters blind as bats into his net. Thus the fact that Iago knows he is stringing a fool of Roderigo he is able to use him in his plans in order to poison Othello and thus achieving his goal for revenge. In the middle of the play Iago puts his plans to action. Cassio a man of Venice has replaced Iago as Lieutenant. His weakness is that of the drink and his nobility and chivalry. Iago first see’s his opportunity to use Cassio when they arrive at Cyprus.
Desdemona arrives and is greeted warmly by the noble Cassio who appears more intimate in Iago’s mind than many noble gentlemen. “ (aside) “he takes her by the palm… whisper… very good! Well kissed… ” using the Shakespearean (stage directions) technique of aside the audience witness the personal thoughts of Iago. The effect of this is having an insight into Iago’s observations indicating that he has left him with the opportunity to use Cassio as a pawn in his game because of this close intimacy.
Iago decided to use Cassio as the one to cause jealousy in Othello. Othello is not easily swayed. The exploitation of Cassio seems easier thus to accomplish with the weaknesses revealed enabling the task of revenge to come closer into Iago’s sights. Cassio becomes drunk at the celebrations at Cyprus of the victory over the turks but Cassio had been given strict instructions of Othello not to. Roderigo is urged by Iago to cause a fight in order to exploit Cassio’s weakness of drink to everyone, especially Othello. Iago uses Roderigo again, aving earlier stated Cassio admired Desdemona, thus causing Roderigo, as suspected, to take revenge on this lie. Distorting the truth for Roderigo and then urging a proud and noble Cassio to have a drink “but one cup I will drink of you… tis a night of revels,” Iago preys on exploiting the noble Cassio for his weakness by cleverly intervening with Roderigo and a few simple words. This successfully draws a fight wounding Montano and bringing Othello to the conclusions that Cassio is not trustworthy. “Iago thy honesty and love…
Cassio… never more be officer of mine. ” The technique of this simple appearance v. s reality and lies and the effect of these techniques enables Iago to have the outcome he so desires, one in which Cassio is stripped of lieutenant. Thus achieving being able to see Othello ashamed at the mistrust he has brought upon himself. Iago could have just taken his envied position of lieutenant back then and nothing more would have happened. But Iago craved something more, he craved revenge on Othello. To see him suffer physically and mentally.
Not stopping here he further uses Cassio and now Desdemona’s innocence and reliability to her husband to twist the truth and cause an awful conspiracy. Iago suggests to Cassio “ our general’s wife is now the general,” and Cassio responds “I will beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake for me. ” The effect of Cassio’s humiliation leaves Iago able to detect what motivates Cassio. Iago sees the desperation for his dignity and uses it to not only exploit Cassio further as helpless and naive but sees the opportunity to get Cassio closer to Desdemona who is “the general. In other words Desdemona can get Othello who is wrapped up in love to obey her desires. Getting Cassio closer would provide the perfect opportunity to plant a seed of doubt in Othello’s mind. Iago foresees thus that through Desdemona Othello would fall. “She shall undo her credit with the moor … out of her goodness make the net that will enmesh them all. ” The technique of predicting what is about to happen conveys to the audience that Iago has the skill to “enmesh them all. ” And the later shakespearean technique, Iago’s soliloquy Iago reveals his true intentions challenging again the appearance v. reality revealing that using the innocence of Desdemona as her own weakness for good and thus Othello’s weakness for women Iago would be easily able to create a conspiracy which would cause a horrid outcome through words only bringing an unexpected harm to Othello in order to have his revenge. Act three is when Iago’s plans come together. Cassio approaches Desdemona and begs her to talk to Othello to reinstate him. Desdemona convinces Othello who agrees as foreseen by Iago. Iago’s next plan of action is to plant the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind.
He achieves this by using two excuses for evidence. The way Cassio and Desdemona closely conspire, how often they were seeing each other and the biggest clue-the planted handkerchief. Iago uses short sentences in his conversation with Othello, uses his reluctance to say things to appear innocent of the truth and insecurity of revealing the truth and repetition to build up the tense atmosphere between the two to get Othello’s mind asking rhetorically to himself about Desdemona. “Indeed?… Indeed?… Honest?… Honest my lord?… I am not bound to that all slaves are free to utter my thoughts! The effect of this innocent act on Iago’s part plays on Othello’s noble nature. It causes him to reach out and understand and trust Iago’s words. As he warns Othello of Cassio and Desdemona for the first time he uses personification and metaphorical language “beware… of jealousy… the green eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on. ” The effect of these techniques leaves Othello to ponder over what is true. This draws again, on appearance v. s reality. Of what is real and what’s not about Iago and others for example Desdemona.
Exploiting Othello’s weakness of women and heroic attitude Iago begins to poison Othello’s mind and comes closer to having his ultimate revenge. As the plot progresses Othello’s language slides towards that of Iago’s as his doubts and jealousy rise through Iago’s words. “I had rather be a toad… tis destiny unshunnable like death,” In Othello’s soliloquy after the discussion with Iago ,the imagery of death darkens the mood in the play and the effect is that it provides evidence to the audience that Iago’s plan is a success thus far.
Desdemona fell in love with the heroic side of Othello in the first place and when Iago tries to convince Othello that she has lain with many men before, this begins to play on Othello’s mind making him question rhetorically again to himself who he should trust. Is it only that Desdemona empathetically fell in love with him for her own lust? The effect of such thoughts leaves Othello asking Iago harshly for plain evidence because his mind has been torn from the technique again appearance v. s reality and good v. s evil. Who is really against him and who isn’t?
For Iago this proof is hard for him to find but the handkerchief, a token of Othello’s love to Desdemona, provides the perfect opportunity for Iago with Othello’s weak mind to twist the truth and cause the conspiracy of Desdemona and Cassio’s affair to become truthful. Thus coming that much closer to reaching Iago’s gaol of revenge. Iago further deceives the characters by exploiting his wife’s weakness for her dedication to her honourable mistress. Emelia has promised Iago Desdemona’s handkerchief with the thoughts that he has good intentions for its use.
In her small soliloquy she states “was he remembrance of the moor… she loves the token… husband… wooed me to steal it,” the effect of this shakespearean technique is the conveyed importance of the handkerchief for Othello. Emilia, thinking only of her mistress, blindly obeys her husband when the opportunity arrises “I nothing but to please his fantasy,” thinking also it would keep him out of trouble and the way. The effect of these actions enables the audience to see the deception that Iago pulls even on the woman who knows him most. His wife.
This deception enables Iago’s plans for revenge to come closer to its mark. Iago’s final plan of deception is what brings Cassio to be attacked, Roderigo to be killed and Othello to kill his own wife. Iago reveals after receiving the handkerchief from Emelia “I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin… the moor already changes with my poison,” the effect is that this reveals the truth of how Iago has exploited Othello and used Cassio by creating a set up with the hankerchief as evidence to twist the truth and to poison Othello against Cassio and Desdemona.
Because of these tactics Iago is able to successfully draw Othello into his net coming closer to his goal of revenge. Iago’s plans are coming to light, finally the waiting and patient planning is put into action. Using the shakespearean technique of stage directions aside again through Othello, Iago creates the final trigger that sparks Othello’s rage and jealousy. “Aside, look how he laughs already… so, so, so, so… I see that nose of yours but not that dog I shall throw it to! The effect is Othello’s false judgement which has been cleverly planned out by Iago.
How this comes about is in the conversation between Iago and Cassio where the handkerchief is shown and the conversation manipulated by Iago “I will marry her out of her own love and flattery,” whilst Iago twists the words of the conversation, Othello’s jealousy blinds him to suspect the conversation is of Desdemona. The final blow is when Bianca arrives with the Handkerchief “this is some minx’s token and I must take out the work? ” the minute the special token is seen, Othello’s judgement is concluded and his thoughts become dark and full of thoughts of murder “… y heaven that should be my handkerchief… How shall I murder him Iago? ” Iago thus succeeds in setting in motion Othello to take revenge for a lie and being humiliated as a result. Thus in Iago exploiting Othello’s weaknesses he is finally closer to his goal of revenge . But Othello is still confused. Although a bond between Iago and himself is promised he is still bewitched by Desdemona’s beauty through the use of oxymoron “she’s the worse of all this… o a thousand, thousand times-and then of so gentle a condition!… I will chop her into messes.
Cuckold me!… Hang her… so delicate… ”The effect of this technique enables Othello to appear as human and not so purely evil. But Iago then takes his chances and suggests the methods of death by exploiting Desdemona’s goodness as a way of hinting to Othello that she is hiding the truth. “Do it not with poison; strangle her in her bed… she hath contaminated. ” The effect of this suggestion is that Iago has drawn Othello to reality once more and has triggered his jealousy once more, based on lies and his innocent act of trust and loyalty to Othello.
The pact that they make in their blood forthwith reveals the success of Iago’s exploitation of Othello and thus enables him to ultimately and definitely succeed in his revenge. In Act 4 evidence of Iago’s scheming is put to action through Othello’s character when he publicly slaps Desdemona. “Devil (he strikes her). ” Othello becomes publicly humiliated and so does Desdemona. The opinion of Lodovico confirms the change of Othello’s character to the audience “is this the moor whom our full senate call all-in-all sufficient?…
I am sorry that I am deceived in him. ” The rhetorical question to Iago conveys the doubts of Lodovico of Othello’s attitude. Iago has used the presence of Desdemona’s uncle and the other spectators to see evidence of this drastic change is to convey the degraded nobility of Othello through his attitude and actions. This to the audience further provides the future reasons for Othello to lash out. Thus enabling Iago’s plans of revenge to succeed. Iago also uses his wife’s loyalty to Desdemona to appear confident that what Othello is doing is false.
This occurs when she is confronted by the moor in his harsh tones and she states. “Nor ever heard. Nor ever did suspect… she is honest… let heaven requite it with the serpent’s curse. ” As the effect of Emilia’s warning to othello of what jealousy is in relation to the serpent, it helps to paint the picture of her respect for Desdemona and utter loyalty which Iago hoped. Another effect is that it causes Othello’s mind to work against the truth of Desdemona’s innocence. Why?
Because Emelia is protecting her mistress which, as predicted by Iago, Othello takes as a way of Desdemona avoiding the truth. When Emelia further mentions her husband is to blame, the bond of trust between Othello and Iago is seen through Othello’s denial that she is lying and Desdemona is still in the wrong. Thus revealing Othello’s easily manipulated mind and Iago’s success in exploiting again his own wife in order to keep Othello convinced in order for his revenge to be carried out. Later in scene four, Othello sends Desdemona to bed where she is told to be alone and sends Emelia away.
Washing her, Emelia comforts her mistress and Desdemona reflects on a song which her mother sang on the night of her death “That song tonight will not go from my mind,” Desdemona also requests Emelia to lay out her wedding sheets and Emelia further comments “I will be hanged if some eternal villain… have not devised this slander ; I will be hanged else. ” commenting on the actions of Othello the technique of dramatic irony the effect that is derived from this irony is that both characters are predicting their own deaths at the cause of men and also predicting on what is to come.
To predict ones death is a message that a dark path is forthcoming and Iago has successfully created these visions in these women to indicate to the audience that his revenge is well underway. In act five as planned, Iago uses Roderigo by urging him one last time to help him attack Cassio at Bianca’s home. The attack is swift leaving Cassio wounded in the leg and Roderigo stabbed by Iago as a way of quieting him. “He stabs Roderigo,” is the stage direction and the effect indicates that Iago doesn’t intend to let Lodovico and Gratiano know he is behind the attacks.
Thus framing Roderigo and silencing him. “Murder, Murder! ” is Cassio’s call which indicates also to Othello that Iago has kept his word thinking Cassio is silenced as planned. And so Othello takes out his task on Desdemona. Iago has created the perfect villain such as himself through only words and in fulfilling his lies he draws Othello ever closer into his net to finally achieve his goal of revenge. Othello tries to kill Desdemona but is swain by her beauty which almost nearly fails Iago’s plan.
But Iago’s words and dedication to Othello through reaching out to his noble and heroic side leaves Othello to trust his pride. “She must die, else betray more men… he kisses her. ” the effect of Othello as indicated further by the stage directions kissing Desdemona, conveys the love he still holds for her and the three kisses indicates his complete pain for what he has to do. But his mind is at work to prevent further betrayals as the thoughts have been planted by Iago. Desdemona who is unknowing in her innocence of what is happening as Iago predicted is the one who does herself in..
This is seen with Desdemona helping Cassio in order to see Othello happy. Still, in her innocence, upon her death bed she stays true to her husband “commend me to my kind Lord. ” This quote uttered on her last breath has the effect of revealing that Desdemona still sees the goodness in her husband. This innocence which leads Othello to the truth is how Iago wanted to see Othello regret own actions. Iago used his personal skills of manipulation, appearance v. s reality and his other characteristics to tell lies, let people hear what they wanted to hear, appear reluctant to say things.
To support his actions, the language of persuasion has been used. Thus conveying how he preyed on the other characters’ weaknesses. He eventually drew them into his net and was able to use the characters weaknesses to his benefit. This was done in order to create the conspiracy of Desdamona and Cassio and to plant a seed of jealousy in Othello’s mind making him fight back, thus causing his own downfall. Iago has used these skills, techniques and careful planning to exploit others to finally achieve the ultimate goal of revenge.