Shakespeare's Othello - Othello and Iago


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Othello and Iago

 

The tragedy "Othello" by William Shakespeare is a story based upon the revenge of two characters, Othello and Iago. These two characters help to prove Murphey's Law which states that if something wrong can happen it will: for Othello it is the wrongful killing of his wife and friend, for Iago it is getting caught for his actions and finally being tortured. Many historians, actors, and readers would like to argue that Othello and Iago are very complex but at a closer look you will notice that their actions are purely based upon revenge for their iniquities.

 

"I follow him to serve my turn upon him," said Iago (9:45). From the beginning of the story Iago has a cruel intent bent on destroying Othello merely because the job that he sought after was given to young Cassio. Exactly why his hatred burns so bright is unclear because it was not uncommon to lose a position to another soldier. With or without reasonable justification for revenge, Iago immediately starts to tear Othello apart by informing Brabantio (Desdemon's father, Othello;s wife) that she is out with a black ram and committing unjust acts. As time progresses Iago becomes more wrapped up in his lies that he even begins to believe that Othello has slept with his own wife, Emelia, and now he has even more reason to hate "the Moor", "I hate the Moor and it is thought abroad that `twixt my sheets `has done my office"( 55:429-431). Iago is so obsessed with his revenge on Othello that he does not care what happens to anyone else so long as he is happy. In the process of hurting Othello he manages to have Roderigo killed, Cassio severely injured, his own wife Emelia is slain by his own hands, Desdemona dies at the hands of her husband Othello, and after everything Othello kills himself. Sadly Iago accomplishes his revenge but with so many casualties and then he himself is tortured and killed for his part in the great conspiracy, but before he is punished he has to see that Cassio will be the one to take Othello's place (a strange irony since it was Cassio that Iago was jealous of).

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In all situations we see Othello standing tall as a "War General." It is his job position that allows him to be deceived and tricked by Iago. Othello won Desdemona's heart by his exotic stories of traveling and war but with the war at Cyprus ended he no longer had anything (in his opinion) to be proud of and prove he was a true man. "whilst you were here, overwhelmed with your grief- A passion most unsuiting such a man" (177:91-92) Iago implies that Othello is becoming soft and no longer being as a soldier should be. Desperate to cling to his former identity as a soldier while his current identity as a lover crumbles, Othello begins to confuse the one with the other. His expression of his jealousy quickly devolves from the conventional "farewell the tranquil mind" to the absurd. "Farewell the plumed troops and the big wars that make ambition virtue! O, farewell, farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, the spirit-stirring drum, th'ear piercing fife, the royal banner, and all quality, pride, pomp, and circumstances of glorious war!" (143:400-406) says Othello in despair. His life comes to a crashing halt at the thought of Cassio having sex with Desdemona, but Othello still desires to hold true to his nature never questions either of the suspected parties because in the army you move forward in full charge, asking questions only after the battle has been won. Everything that Othello does resembles that of a general. He orders his wife around, and never stands to be questioned. When he receives his ocular proof that is like raising the Guillotine, he asks Iago to kill Cassio for honor. While his wife sleeps he stands above her and not wanting to damage her precious winter white skin he begins to strangle her. Even in the process of killing Desdemona he shows the signs of a good general for he believes that it is for the best of all man kind that he will kill her and end her evil ways.

 

The cause for five deaths all lies in the twisted hearts of jealous men seeking revenge for being wronged. Othello and Iago both were suppose to be of a christian society but the lives they lived were not that of Christ. Complex are these two characters? No, they simply are weak creatures controlled by the evil powers of the world, money, jealousy, pride, and one that is both good and bad: LOVE. If only they would have been able to see themselves from others eyes maybe than they could have controlled their rage and revenge.

 

 


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