14 September 2016
The Civil Monster
William Shakespeare once said, “All that glisters is not gold”, suggests that there may be a hidden or deeper meaning behind a person’s initial appearance. Lies and deceits are common in society, and many individuals mask their true intentions with a veneer. In Shakespeare’s play Othello, the character Iago is no different than the rest of the other deceptive characters in the play. Behind his fraudulent as a trustworthy ensign and friend, Iago is a multilayered, deceitful, and manipulative civil monster. Iago use his ingenious strategic acts of manipulation to undermine each character’s weakness. He exploits Roderigo’s love for Desdemona, lure Cassio under the guise of friendship, and fiddles Othello’s mind b playing on his self-doubt. Evidently, Iago manipulates people around him by using their weakness against them.
First, Roderigo has a gullible and naive personality that Iago uses to his advantage. Roderigo’s obsessive love for Desdemona renders home susceptible to Iago’s manipulation. This obsession causes him to believe anything Iago says in hopes of getting Desdemona. Iago convinces him to kill Cassio. Although Roderigo is reluctant at first, he relents once Iago insists by helping him; Roderigo will win Desdemona’s heart. Roderigo states: “I have no great devotion to the deed/ and yet he hath given me satisfying reasons./ `Tis but a man gone. Forth, my sword: he dies” (V.1.8-10). Gullible Roderigo falls for Iago’s mendacity and attempts to kill Cassio. Unfortunately, Iago chooses to kill Roderigo. Iago mercilessly states: “ I have rubbed this young quat almost to the sense./ And he grows angry/ May unfold me to him-there stand I in much peril./ No, he must die. But so, I hear him coming” (V.1.11-23). This portrays how Iago ruthlessly takes advantage of Roderigo for his own needs and disposes of him once his value is used up. Thus, Iago exploits Roderigo’s naivete and obsession with Desdemona, deceiving and manipulating him in order to bring about the downfall of the other characters.
Not only Roderigo but also, Cassio is very gullible and has a trusting nature. Iago prays on Cassio by pretending to be his friend while clandestinely misleading him. Iago pressures Cassio to drink, getting him intoxicated to cause fight. As a result, Othello demotes Cassio from his high-ranking position as lieutenant and having just been demoted exposes him to Iago’s schemes. Iago intentionally slanders Cassio to diminish his reputation despite appearing to Cassio’s friend. With this in mind, Iago further plots against Cassio by advising him with malicious intentions. He gives Cassio hope of getting his position back by telling him to ask Othello’s wife Desdemona for help. Iago intentional plans were to use this in his ploy to bring him down. Iago appeals to Cassio’s trusting nature, “I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness” (II.3.295) but follows it up in his soliloquy by sarcastingly saying “And what’s he then that says I play the villain?/ When this advice is free I give and honest/ Probable to thinking and indeed the course./ To win the Moor again?” (II.3.300-309). Evidently, Iago deliberately mislead Cassio so the he can use Cassio’s misguided behavior to insinuate that he desires Desdemona. Just like Iago uses Roderigo’s gullible nature to turn him into a pawn, Iago manages to do the same thing to the trusting and unwitting Cassio. Iago overall intentions worked out, as he manipulates Cassio by taking advantage of his trusting nature to deceive him under the guise of friendship..
In addition, Othello deals with much personal insecurity that Iago plays with to bring about his downfall. Othello is notably an outcast, being the only black man in a white society. Throughout the whole play, he is referred to as “The Moor”. As a result of the society’s prejudice, Othello’s self-esteem diminishes, allowing Iago to capitalize on his insecurity to invoke the feeling of jealousy in Othello. Iago starts by insinuates that Desdemona is unfaithful to Othello. Iago claims that Desdemona would prefer Cassio, who is like her in age, race, and class, as opposed to Othello who is older, black and unattractive. Similarly, Iago uses Desdemona’s gender and past to convince Othello of the infidelity. Iago states: “She did deceive her father, marrying you./ And when she seemed to shake and fear of your looks,/ She loved them most” (III.4.190-196). He suggests that Desdemona, having betrayed her father, is very likely to betray Othello. Piece by piece, Iago wears down Othello’s layer, and places a heavy cloud of doubt and jealousy around him. Iago muddles with Othello’s mind to such an extent that Othello believes no one but Iago. Othello shapes a realm of truth from Iago’s lies, and promote Iago to his desired position as lieutant. Othello accepts Iago’s lies and believes them to be the truth. But believes Desdemona’s truthful pleas to be a lie. In essence, Iago takes advantage of Othello’s self-doubt to cradle him in a deceitful environment. Thus, Iago toys with Othello’s mind by using his insecurity against him.