The Role of Reputation in Shakespeare's Othello


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The Role of Reputation in Shakespeare's Othello


Reputation plays a big role in the play Othello written by Shakespeare. Iago uses his reputation as an honest man to deceive Othello and everyone else. Othello's reputation also plays a big role throughout the play. Cassio's changing reputation has a big part in the outcome of the play as well.

Iago's reputation played a key role in the play. Everyone thought of Iago as an honest man. "O, that's an honest fellow", "You advise me well... goodnight honest Iago." Iago convinces everyone that he is noble and honest man and he uses this to his advantage. "When devils will the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows." Without this cover he would never have been able to get Othello to believe that Desdemona would cheat on him. Just for suggesting that Desdemona would cheat on him (Othello), he probably would have killed Iago were it not for his reputation. Nobody suspects that Iago is a deceitful man and would plot to destroy Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio in such a cunning way. Iago uses his reputation to manipulate Othello and set his plan in motion and complete it. Without Iago's honest reputation would never had allowed him smear Cassio and cause the death of Desdemona and ultimately Othello as well.

Othello's reputation also plays a big role in this play and the outcome of it. He has the reputation of a no nonsense military general. This status in fact partly causes Desdemona's death. He becomes so distraught when he hears from Iago that Cassio and Desdemona and cheating on him he becomes angry and wants to kill her. "I will chop her into messes! Cuckold me?" He is surprised and astonished that she would go behind his back and do this. His reputation doesn't allow him to confront her with the situation and talk things over. He is also angry that his reputation would be tarnished when found out that he is a cuckold. He proves that his reputations means a lot to him when he says, "For nought I did in hate, but all in honour." Othello believed that reputation was everything, because of his status as a general and the fact that those under him and above him respected him. Othello's reputation played a big role in the outcome of the play and in part caused Desdemona's death and his own.

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Cassio's changing reputation played a big role in the play as well. Reputation was everything to Cassio, but once demoted he began to act differently and couldn't face Othello. "I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." After Cassio is demoted Othello loses faith in his once good friend because of his tarnished reputation. Had Cassio not gotten drunk, Iago wouldn't have been able to convince Othello that he was cheating with Desdemona. He was too loyal of a friend and had always followed orders. Othello says to Cassio, "I'll make thee an example." He clearly show his loss of trust in Cassio and Cassio knows this. He tries to correct the situation with Othello through Desdemona, but it only makes things worse once Iago steps in. Cassio's tarnished reputation only helps Iago succeed in his plan. Cassio reputation as a loyal, just and honest soldier are trashed when he gets drunk. This ultimately helps Iago prevail.

Reputation is an important thing. It helps people know who to trust and what judgements they make regarding a person. The reputations of these three characters played big roles in the outcome of the play. The ending would clearly have been different had Iago not been known as honest or Othello as a noble military man or Cassio's reputation tarnished. Reputation is what helps all of us make judgements about others and is very important in our society today.


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