William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Othello Essay
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Othello share themes that deal with the differentiation between appearances and truth. Main characters in both plays find themselves helplessly confused as their minds battle with their eyes to distinguish between what they see, and what is real.Iago and Lady Macbeth are two deceptive characters who appear to be noble and respectable, but in reality share similar traits of greed and evil.
Main characters in both plays ignorantly misjudge Iago and Lady Macbeth for everything that they are not.
Iago is dubbed as “honest Iago” (II, iii, 355) throughout the entire play. This is ironic because the audience of the play is more insightful. They know that Iago only disguises himself as honest, concealing his greed within.
Throughout the play, Cassio, who is actually Iago’s main enemy, sees Iago as honest and kind. Iago promises Cassio that he will persuade Desdemona on his behalf, and an ignorant, yet appreciative Cassio responds, “I never knew A Florentine more kin and honest” (III, i, 45).
Iago’s intent is to make it seems as if Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Ironically, Othello ignorantly holds Iago as a trustworthy friend, reiterating that “This fellow’s of exceeding honest, and knows all qualities with a learned spirit Of human dealings.
” (III, iii, 299-301). Iago’s deceitful maneuvering is motivated by his frustration over Cassio’s recent promotion. In seeking revenge against Cassio and Othello, Iago demonstrates his hunger for power and his intention to obtain this by eliminating certain obstacles that stand in his way. Lady Macbeth’s character is also deceiving.
To the ignorant outside world, Lady Macbeth portrays an innocent and harmless woman. When Duncan arrives at her castle, he unknowingly refers to her as a “Fair and noble hostess” (I, vii, 24). Her deceitful and manipulative nature(Lee, 2)reflects on her hunger for power. When Lady Macbeth hears of the king’s visit, she immediately begins to compose a plot in overthrowing the king.
Her ultimate goal is to become queen, and in effect to Macbeth’s inheritance of the throne, her goals will be achieved. Lady Macbeth is nothing but a counterpart to the character of Iago. They are two of a kind, both sharing the ability to manipulate others while maintaining exterior appearances.The illusions in both Othello and Macbeth result from the greed for power that both Iago and Macbeth share.
Iago is behind all the deceit and misunderstandings of Othello. Iago is motivated by his greed and hunger for power. He operates under the trust of others, carefully using this trust to forward his goals. Rodrigo is exemplifies one of Iago’s most devoted tools.
Iago finds that Rodrigo is helplessly in love with Desdemona. He intelligently uses Rodrigo’s love for Desdemona as a weakness, exploiting this weakness to his full advantage. Iago, contemplating the usefulness of Rodrigo says, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.” (I, iii, 355).
He uses Rodrigo economically, telling him to “Go, make money” (I, iii, 407).Cassio, similar to Rodrigo is completely blind to Iago’s ulterior motives. Cassio trusts Iago, and, throughout the entire play, believes that Iago is helping him. Iago initially gets Cassio inebriated so that he will engage in a “brawl” with Rodrigo.
When Othello arrives, Iago blames the quarrel as Cassio’s fault, saying, “Though Cassio did some little wrong to him, As men in rage strike those that wish them best” (II, iii, 256-58). Cassio is in effect denounced, losing his position as lieutenant. Throughout all of his schemes, he never loses his title as “honest Iago” (II, iii, 355). Similar to Othello, the illusions in Macbeth are a product of Macbeth’s greed.
Throughout the play, Macbeth must distinguish between appearances and the truth. Before murdering King Duncan, Macbeth sees a mysterious floating dagger. When he sees the dagger, he declares,(Lee, 3)”Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, fatal vision, sensible (able to be felt) to feeling as to sight, or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (II, ii, 33-38).
Macbeth attempts to comprehend the image that he sees. He questions the validity of his eyes, and suggests that it is his insanity which produces the image. The floating dagger is a symbol for insanity. Macbeth is becoming insane, and accompanying his insanity are the illusions that he thinks are real.
If Macbeth chooses the path of the dagger, he then chooses the world of insanity and illusions.Macbeth chooses the path of the dagger, killing King Duncan, and becoming the heir to the throne. Macbeth fears the prophecy that Banquo will father kings. As a result of his greed for power, Macbeth plots to eliminate his friend.
Macbeth then encounters another deceiving illusion. Macbeth attends a banquet at which he witnesses the ghost of Banquo. He grows fearful of theghost and declares that the ghost, “Take any shape but that (Banquo) and my firm nerves shall never tremble.” (III, iv, 100-4).
In choosing the path of the dagger, Macbeth allows his greed to sanction his decisions. In conclusion, it is through greed that illusions are created.Deceiving appearances throughout the plays Othello and Macbeth are the cause of their tragic endings. By allowing his jealously to overpower his reasoning, Othello decides to murder his wife.
Desdemona attempts to reason with Othello, but her reasoning goes to waste as Othello’s jealously has taken over his sensibility. Iago’s deceit has been so successful that in response to Desdemona’s reasoning, Othello responds, “Honest Iago hath ta’en order for ‘t” (V, ii, 91). Emilia who is furiously angry with Othello begins to scream, attracting the attention of others. Othello, in retaliation, stabs and kills Emilia.
Finally realizing the Iago had been behind(Lee, 4)all of the treachery, Othello stabs Iago, and then stabs himself. Tragedy in Macbeth resulted in the deaths of money. The deaths throughout the play were motivated by the greed and confusion of Macbeth. In choosing the path of the dagger, Macbeth chose the path of insanity.
Conclusively, Macbeth kills King Duncan and his good friend Banquo. Two violent murders bring Macbeth to an irrational and delusion state of insanity where his mind no longer functions on the basis of reasoning. He says to himself, realizing his insanity, “I have almost forgot the taste of fears.” (V, v, 9).
Lady Macbeth Eventually commits suicide. When Macbeth received the news, he realizes how meaningless his life has become. He reflects on his reign of carnage saying, “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death..
.” (V, v,19-23).As seen in Othello and Macbeth, one’s eyes can be easily deceived. It is easy for a person to misjudge and misconceive the things that appear to be real.
To distinguish between appearances and reality, one must control their judgment and use not only their eyes but their mind to see the world as it is.