Portrayal and Depiction of Manipulation in Shakespeare’s Othello

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

As in many Shakespearean plays, all characters are not what they seem. Many of the evil characters are thought by others to be sincere and truthful. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is a character that uses manipulation to deceive others into thinking that he is sincere and truthful. But he is not. Iago manipulates Roderigo, Brabantio and even his most loyal companion, Othello throughout the play, which is why manipulation is central to the play. Iago uses manipulation to deceive Roderigo in the play. Iago knows that Roderigo desperately wants Desdemona, the wife of Iago’s loyal companion, Othello. So Iago uses manipulation to make Roderigo think that Cassio is better suited for Desdemona and that she will eventually go to Cassio as he has “a fresh appetite” “sympathy in years and manners” in which Othello “is defective in.” This makes Roderigo jealous and so Iago takes the advantage to manipulate Roderigo into provoking Cassio, so that Cassio will be fired and to have the citizens of Cyprus complain about Cassio. Although Roderigo “have no devotion to this deed,” he still offers to do what Iago tells him to do as is will bring “opportunity” to Roderigo. Thus, through the manipulation of Roderigo, Iago will benefit from it as he wants to take Cassio’s place. Manipulation of Roderigo is clearly seen in the play and how and why Iago manipulates him is very clear. Iago uses Roderigo by manipulating him. The whole play is based on Iago’s sought for revenge on Othello and so the way he manipulates Roderigo is also part of Iago’s plan, so is central to the play. Although Roderigo finds out later that he has been deceived, the manipulation of Roderigo enables us to understand human weaknesses towards our desires. Roderigo desperately wants Desdemona and so he becomes vulnerable to anything that could enable him to be with her. Iago demonstrates how easily it is to manipulate those who are in a vulnerable state, like Roderigo.

Thereby, manipulation portrays the idea of how humans become weak when we desperately want something and also shows how Shakespeare is trying to warn is to be aware of such manipulation. Manipulation is also seen when Iago tries to manipulate Brabantio when he finds out about Othello and his daughter’s relationship. At the beginning of the ply, Iaog tells Brabantio that the “moor” Othello, is sleeping with his daughter behind his back. Although Desdemona truly loves Othello and the relationship is nothing but based on pure and honest love, Iago uses imagery to manipulate Brabantio into thinking that Othello has somehow lured Desdemona into the relationship. Iago does this by saying that “and old black ram is tupping your white ewe” and also mentions that Desdemona will be “covered with a Barbary horse.” Such imagery of Othello being a “black ram” and a “barbray horse” shows how Iago uses animalistic imagery to try and intice Brabantio into thinking that Othello is “evil.” Reference to Othello as an animal enables Brabantio to imagine the “moor” sleeping with his “white” and innocent daughter, and also depicts an inhumane lustful animal. This helps Brabantio to place all the fault over Othello. This is beneficial to Iago, as his intentions are to seek revenge on Othello, as Othello chose Cassio over him. Brabantio is able to be easily fooled by Iago as Desdemona is his daughter and she has deceived him.

Also, Othello is a “moor”, which further helps to manipulate Brabantio, as in Victorian society, those who were from a different race were looked down upon by society. This shows who manipulation can once again be easy if it involves anger. Brabantio is furious at Desdemona but becomes more furious at Othello, as he had trust in Othello, as he is one of the most highly regarded soldiers in Cyprus. Thus, Iago is able to succeed once again, as Brabantio is able to be easily manipulated since Othello is a “moor.” This shows how much people in Victorian society looked upon one’s race. Those who looked different would be an outcast and the manipulation of Brabantio expresses this idea. It also illustrates how Shakespeare tries to show how important it was to be a part of society, as it would greatly help you to survive and to not be looked down upon to stereotyped. Iago also manipulates Othello in the play, which is central to the play. Othello trust Iago and is his loyal companion. However, Iago decides to seek revenge and to manipulate Othello into thinking that his “pure” and innocent wife is having an affair with Cassio. Othello does not believe that at first, but as Iago starts to manipulate him even further, Othello has no choice but to believe everything Iago says. Othello shows how his views on Desdemona changes as at first he refers her as “gentle Desdemona” and that even “is she were false, o then heaven mocks itself, I’ll not believe it.” The very sight of her is enough to restore Othello. However, later in the play, Desdemona is referred to as a “whore” and he becomes confused on who to trust, “I think my wife be honest and think she is not.” However, the trust and loyalty that Iago and Othello has, outweighs othello’s love for Desdemona and this causes Othello to kill innocent Desdemona. This shows how once again, Iago succeeds because of the trust Othello has of him and because Iago has been loyal to Othello for a very long time. This is how Othello is easily manipulated, even though we might think that this is impossible. We would normally think that Othello would want to trust his wife, but instead he listens to Iago, and only trusts him. This trust and loyalty Othello has in Iago is what influences othello’s decisions and actions and in the end, Iago’s success.

Thus, manipulation is central to the play, as Iago’s main motive was to revenge Othello and punish him from the beginning of the play and manipulate him to believe that his wife is having an affair. Iago’s success enables Shakespeare to show how even those whom we might trust, can easily fool us and deceive us, like Iago does to Othello. Thus, through the manipulation of Othello, Shakespeare warns us of the dangers of how human can easily manipulate each other, no matter how much we trust them, as the trust can be used against one another. In conlusion, the manipulation is central to the play as a whole, as the character of Iago manipulates many characters such as Roderigo, Brabantio and Othello, so that he can get what he desires. This manipulation enables us to understand that messages Shakespeare is trying to provide, which is why it is so important to the play.


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