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How does the villian Iago weave a web of deceit, and calculate the downfall of the...

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vanishedsmoke | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 6, 2013 at 5:04 PM via web

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How does the villian Iago weave a web of deceit, and calculate the downfall of the other characters? How does Shakespeare reveal his motives, actions and beliefs? Use specific examples from the text to support your answer.

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted May 7, 2013 at 12:11 AM (Answer #1)

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In Othello, Shakespeare reveals the motives, actions and beliefs of Iago. Iago is a dangerous villain. He creates an evil plot to destroy Othello. Othello had passed over Iago and chosen Cassio has his new lieutenant. Iago coveted, truly desired, that position. He felt the position of lieutenant was rightfully his. In the very first Act, Iago is sharing his grievances with Roderigo about Othello giving the lieutenant position to Cassio. Iago is full of hatred when he tells Roderigo that important people had asked Othello to make Iago lieutenant: 

Three major people of the city
Personally ask him to make me his lieutenant,
Take off their hats to him. and, by the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth that promotion.
But he, loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them, beating around the bush proudly,
Horribly stuffed with his usual talk of war.
And, in conclusion, tells
My mediators, “No,” because, "Certainly," he says,
"I have already chosen my officer."

No doubt, Iago is furious. His first act of revenge is to alert Brabantio that his beloved daughter Desdemona has secretly married Othello. Iago knows that Brabantio will seek to destroy Othello for wedding his beautiful daughter behind his back. 

When Iago arrives at Brabantio's home in the middle of the night, he begins shouting that thieves have taken your daughter:

Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! Thieves! Thieves! Thieves!
Look at your house, your daughter, and your bags!
Thieves! Thieves!

When Brabantio confronts Othello about stealing his daughter, Desdemona retaliates and tells her father that she intends to remain married to Othello. Iago's plot didn't work. Therefore, he had to change his plan. 

Next, Iago plots to make Othello think his lovely wife Desdemona is having an affair with Othello's new lieutenant Cassio. In this way, Iago can destroy Othello and Cassio at the same time. Othello trusts Iago. He repeatedly refers to Iago as "honest" Iago and calls him his friend:

My friend...honest, honest Iago.

Truly, Othello highly trusts Iago. For this reason, Iago was able to successfully plant seeds of doubt and jealousy in Othello. Iago pointed out that Desdemona had deceived her father when she had secretly married Othello:

She deceived her father by marrying you;

With this seed, Othello begins to doubt his wife. No doubt, Iago has planted his evil seeds about Desdemona. Iago begins to tear down Desdemona's character, causing Othello to question her integrity. At the same time, Iago pretentiously assures Othello of his love. Iago tells Othello that he loves him and that he only speaks against Desdemona due to his tremendous love for Othello:

I hope you will consider that what I have spoken
Comes from my love;

Othello falls for Iago's deceptive plan. Ultimately, Othello smothers his wife Desdemona because he believed Iago was his friend. Othello truly believed that Iago loved him. After all, Iago professed it over and over again.

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